Sarah shall be her name

And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
(Genesis 17:15-21)

We were studying and discussing Genesis 17 last night. In this study, we have been going through Genesis. Right now Genesis is focusing on the relationship God had with Abraham and his family. “Abraham is the father of us all,” Paul wrote (Romans 4:16). We sure can learn a lot from Abraham and how his faith in God grew and was continually challenged. But we can also learn about God and His awesome nature and character. He loves us. God keeps His promises. His blessings have no parallel in what the world can offer us.

God promised an old man and an old woman past the age of childbearing that they would have a child. He changed their names to forever memorialize that promise being fulfilled. “Sarah” would be a princess for God the sovereign King will bless her and kings would come from her. “Abraham” will become a father of multitudes, because his family will become like the stars and sands…innumerable.

Abraham fell on his face and laughed (Genesis 17:17). In the next chapter Sarah laughed (Genesis 18:12). What did God name the son to come? “Isaac” which means laughter! I love that.

I think about this in connection to our marriages. Here are just a few thoughts to consider:

  • Genesis 17 begins with God’s call to Abraham to walk before Him and be blameless (Genesis 17:1). The chapter concludes with a 99-year old man being circumcised in the flesh of his foreskins, along with all his household. If I want God to bless my marriage like God blessed Abraham and Sarah, then I must walk before the Lord and be blameless. We as husbands must commit to doing whatever God tells us to do, whatever is required, however difficult it may be.
  • God blessed Sarah. Men, are we praying for God to bless our wives? God reassured Abraham that He deeply cared for Sarah and was going to bless her richly. God called her princess. Think about that husbands. Do you and I view our wives as that princess whom God deeply loves?
  • The Lord can resurrect what is dead. He is the God of the impossible. In Romans 4:26-25 we learn a lesson in faith from Abraham and Sarah. God brings to life what was dead! If God can make an old man and old woman past the age of childbearing to have a baby, and if God can bring a man (Jesus) who was in the grave 3 days back to life, when what can God do for us today? Can God resurrect a dead marriage? With God’s help we can revive and rebuild what we and others around us may count as impossible!
  • God can make you laugh. Finally, just a thought to consider that God wanted this baby to be named Isaac. Whenever they cuddled that baby or called that son to dinner, they said “laughter.” Remember that the “joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). When God makes you rejoice, there is no one who can take away your joy (John 16:22).

Song of Songs 2

Thanks again to Jason Salyers for writing this article. This is a follow-up to his article from two weeks ago on Song of Songs.


The end of chapter 1 of the Song of Solomon ends with the interaction of Solomon and his bride stating to one another, “You are Beautiful.” Chapter 2 begins with her saying to Solomon:

She: 2 1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

He: As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.

She: As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

This is not a biblical example of “one-up-manship!” In these verses, similar thoughts to chapter one are brought out: the Bride continues to recognize her appearance and place with her husband, this couple communicates with each other in a way that recognizes the desire and confidence in their relationship, and they have the desire to communicate those feelings towards each other.

Before we progress any farther into our study, we should ask ourselves – “is there any value in communicating in this form?” Again, the design of this is not to make ourselves or our spouses uncomfortable. To compare our wives to varying forms of vegetation (or mountains, or animals) to proclaim their excellencies may not be in our repertoires. However, the Word of God does emphasize an effort on a man’s part to praise his wife:

In Proverbs 31:10-11 we read: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”

Skip down to :23-29 “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Do you have the excellent wife? Perhaps you do not have a farm, small business, or kingdom to rule, but you may still have a bride in which 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, or the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. In today’s society, and especially in the church, men need to tell their wives of the strengths in character they possess. Part of this recognition is certainly reflected in the actions of the worthy woman, but do not neglect what the Bible tells us of the man (Prov. 31:11): 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her. In our relationships with our spouses, do we have that form of trust?

Look back again at the recognition of both the woman and Solomon: chapter 2:11 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys,’ and 2:2: ‘As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women’. Part of the communication demonstrated to us shows faithfulness and belief in the spouse. Have you ever encountered a man or a woman who just no longer trusts, or can no longer trust their spouse? Without the trust, without the belief in each other, there can be no recognition or acceptance of roles; certainly, there is very little praise; and communication limits itself to accusations or apathetic acceptance – our marriages are not to be this way.

Admittedly, this article is presented from one aspect: a man’s role towards his wife (both men and women have roles to fulfill in the Kingdom). There is value in following the entirety of God’s word. A Christian man should recognize and proclaim to their spouse: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Sowing and Reaping: Simple, Difficult, Complex

Let’s continue our discussion from yesterday regarding “choices” and “consequences”. We are in control of our choices and we understand that our actions (based on those choices) have consequences. Wrong actions have negative consequences and right actions have positive consequences. This is biblical pattern and the foundation of the discussion in Galatians 6:6-10.

I have to sow to reap.

“The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4; NKJV); Matt 25

I will reap the same kind as I sowed.

“He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail.” (Proverbs 22:8; NKJV); Job 4:8

I will reap more than I sow.

“They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7; NKJV); Mark 10:29-30

 I will reap in proportion to what I sow.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38; NKJV); 2 Corinthians 9:6

I will reap in a different season than when I sow.

“Be patient…the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7; NKJV); Matt 5:12

These principles are simple and easy to understand and we know that we are to sow Godly choices, thoughts, and behaviors in order to reap everlasting life. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption and a whole lot of trouble. This is where it can become difficult…in the application.

 We are all living a lifetime of mistakes and so we don’t always sow what we should and find ourselves in trouble. This could be a momentary lapse in judgement or a prolonged choice to seek after pleasures, activities, or interests that are contrary to what God has called us to. Application of this principle is where the rubber meets the road and we don’t always get it right.

This becomes even more complex if we consider the fact we are not living in a bubble and we live each day in the context of our relationships. It is bad enough we hurt ourselves with our bad choices and negative consequences, but we also are in danger of hurting those closest to us. Further, even if we are right where we are supposed to be and making good choices; it might be that those who we have the most interaction with or care about the most are making (or have made) bad choices and their consequences/circumstances impact our lives negatively.

What if someone sows anger into their life and our relationship…do we get to be angry back? What if someone sows judgment, do we get to withhold mercy? No, we don’t. And I am not talking about tolerating sinful behavior, we cannot do that. What I am talking about is not allowing the consequences of that behavior to change how we see our God, His blessings, His peace, or the freedom He provides to love like He loves. If we hold firm and stay close to Him, we will have the reassurance, love, joy, etc. we need regardless of how the consequences of others impacts us. Further, if we are able to reflect the fruit of the Spirit, even if someone is full of the fruit of the flesh, we are right where God wants to us to be in order to be an influence for good. It doesn’t always feel good and it isn’t always easy, but if we are sowing love…we will reap love either today or in eternity. We control our choices…not the choices of others or the consequences associated with those choices. Choose God.

God has chosen us and He has given us a leadership role to fill at home and in the relationships we share with the women in our lives.  Some of us might be the only Godly man some women know and we certainly are the most important to our wives, daughters, and sisters in Christ.  He chose us, He has chosen to redeem us and He has left us here so that we will be blessing to those in our lives.  He is working and He will work for us and with us for the benefit of everyone…He doesn’t want anyone to end up anywhere other than at home with Him.

A Lesson from Song of Songs

Thanks to Jason Salyers for sharing these thoughts from Solomon’s Song of Songs.


Consider the Bride and Groom’s interaction (pulled out of poetic form for space, from the ESV).

She: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; 3 your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.

Others: We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.

She: I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?

He: If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents. I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. 10 Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.

Others: 11 We will make for you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.

She: 12 While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. 13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts. 14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.

He: 15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.

She: 16 Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful. Our couch is green; 17 the beams of our house are cedar; our rafters are pine. 2 1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). When we consider this first chapter of the Song of Songs, how do we teach or train ourselves and others with these verses? Unfortunately, for many, there is an “un-comfortability” factor with these verses because our own claims to propriety. “Men and women should not speak to each other in this way!” Out of context, that may be true, but in the context God has given us (Husband and Wife, Bride and Groom) we should reevaluate our own preferences versus God’s.

Consider how the woman refers to herself – she recognizes and accepts her appearance “I am very dark, but lovely.” This is not lascivious, prideful, or a striving for an adornment beyond the meek and quiet spirit. This is an interaction of a woman who knows herself and the place she has with husband.

Next Consider the words they are willing to say to one another, thoughts that reflect desire for one another, love of form and appearance, and a recognition and confidence in the place or position they have with their spouse. In Christianity today, this form of speech many would consider inappropriate, or even sinful. Yet, that takes the Word of God and uses it against itself. Christians must be careful not to pervert the Word of God for a desire to bind something God has not bound.

Finally, recognize they do have the desire to share their feelings with one another. You or I, we may not be capable of expressing these words in this form (the influence of our society removing our ability to speak as the Word of God speaks). However, the thoughts, intentions behind the words must still be brought forth, “Behold you are beautiful.”

 

Strong Enough to be Her Man

Are you “strong enough to be her man?”  No matter who the “her” is…whether it is mother, sister, daughter, wife…you are strong enough to be her man with God as your foundation and His blessings filling your heart.  His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, hope will produce peace that will be just what is needed in the best and worst of times in our relationships with women.

Peace is not the absence of war, trials or tribulations.  Having peace does not mean that the women we love are not going to disappoint us, hurt us or lose their way.  Peace does not mean that our women are not going to be hurt, have challenges, or be without distractions.  Peace is not circumstantial but rather a state of being.  Peace is the presence of God; the tranquility and serenity within the individual who is in a right relationship with God.

Read Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Find peace with God who is the source of peace.  Take a moment and read Colossians 3:12-17 with a focus on verse 15.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

 Draw near and Abide in Christ Jesus through whom God’s peace comes.  Jesus calls us to Abide in Him (John 15) because He has already taken care of what we need and God the good gardener will continue to lift us up, prune away the dead parts and provide us with the fresh air and sunshine needed to grow and prosper.  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Rom. 5:1)

Have peace with self.  Take courage in Jesus’ words.  Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)

We can then have a calmness and tranquility of mind knowing that God is on our side (Romans 8:23, 31).  He WILL NOT forsake you.  No matter how much someone else disappoints you, hurts you, or gets off track.  God will not forsake you and you will be cared for here and retain your final reward and home in heaven.  Allow this to build you up with a peaceful heart so that you can endure and be strong for others.

No matter how turbulent the times get, how loud the argument, how far the distance, how confused the situation…you have a voice!  Take it all to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).

Then, as much as possible, have peace with your women.  (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14).

God is our peace.  He will reassure us.  He will strengthen us.  He will fill us with His wisdom and discernment.  He will give us patience and endurance.  He will pour into us His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and hope in such a way we can project that into the lives of our women and reflect for them the peace and eternal perspective God has called us to have in good times and bad.

You are strong enough to be her man…when you have the peace that comes from above.

Silent Treatment – Typo Correction

Oops!!!!

Thanks to several readers, I was notified of one word that made a HUGE difference.

Here is the original sentence:

Absalom had every right to be angry, but went about it the right way.

Amazing how one word makes such a difference! I either meant to say “Absalom did NOT go about it the right way,” or “Absalom went about it the WRONG way.”

Absalom committed murder…that is not the right way!

Thanks for your patience with my secretary and editor (me), I’m going to fire him soon.

The Silent Treatment

Do you know about “the silent treatment”? I’m sure you do. We have either been on the giving or receiving end of this one, or both. There are a lot of ways we can give the silent treatment in our relationships. One is simply turning a cold shoulder and refusing to talk to the other person until they “learn” the lesson we want them to learn. How well does that work?

Other ways we can show the silent treatment is by avoiding direct confrontation, but instead we use sarcastic jabs or disgusted looks to make our point. Or we can talk in broad generalities of how “everybody” does something or “we” need to change this, when it really isn’t everybody. You are just hoping that your broad sweeping statement will hit the person you think needs to hear it.

Regardless, the silent treatment just isn’t going to lead to effective communication and restored relationships, is it?

Let’s take a lesson today from the life of David, specifically in regards to his relationship with his sons, Amnon and Absalom (2 Samuel 13-14).

Absalom had his brother, Amnon, murdered, because Amnon raped their sister Tamar. Absalom had every right to be angry, but went about it the wrong way. David was angry, too, but did not address Amnon’s sin head on; instead David went silent (2 Samuel 13:21).

Absalom also went “silent” for two years before he had Amnon murdered, for the Bible says here that:

And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. And it came to pass, after two full years… (2 Samuel 13:22-23).

Two years passed. Nothing. No words, either good nor bad. Did that silent treatment help this relationship? Was Amnon’s sin/crime dealt with properly? Did it heal and restore the hurt? No, all it did was fuel Absalom’s hatred and his scheming commenced as to how he would payback Amnon for raping Tamar.

After Amnon was murdered, Absalom fled. David was angry and sad, but again, David went silent. He did nothing. Notice the Scripture. 5 years passed before a word ever was spoken between David and Absalom.

But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead (2 Samuel 13:37-39). 

So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. And the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face.” So Absalom returned to his own house, but did not see the king’s face (2 Samuel 14:23-24).

And Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king’s face (2 Samuel 14:28).

This may be an extreme example, but I believe the Holy Spirit gives us a great illustration of how the “silent treatment” can completely blow up a family and destroy relationships.

Let’s take some time today to reflect upon this in our relationships. Are we the type to give the silent treatment? Do we understand how hurtful this is to those we love when we behave this way? If so, how will we begin to change this, and directly deal with relationship problems head on with love and tenderness? Avoiding confrontation and running away from problems will never bring healthy and restored relationships.

One book you could read, along with the Bible (Proverbs, Sermon on the Mount, James, etc.) is the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. We are reading this right now at home, and it is proving very helpful to us.

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
(Matthew 18:15)

Chesed

Yesterday we considered several passages of Scripture that demonstrate the faithfulness of God and His unfailing love and presence in our lives. Today I would like for you to consider the word “chesed” which is often translated as lovingkindness.

Here are some notes from A Theological Word Book of the Bible on the word “chesed.”

It is important to realize that though the Hebrew chesed can be translated by loving-kindness and mercy without doing violence to the context, yet we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that. The word chesed stands for the wonder of his unfailing love for the people of his choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between his righteousness and his loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.

The word is used to contrast man and God.

  • Isaiah 40:6 – Isaiah used chesed (“loveliness”) in the context of man’s lack of steadfastness or strength. The prophet is contrasting man’s frailty with God’s steadfast reliability.
  • Hosea 6:4 – Israel’s chesed was like the morning cloud which goes away. ‘as the morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away,’ a regular feature of the Palestinian climate when once the spring rains are past.

God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.

In light of these thoughts about the “chesed,” the unfailing lovingkindness God, let us pray for God’s “chesed” to be a part of our marriages. May we as men love our wives “just as” Jesus loved us, and may that unfailing lovingkindness flow from our hearts and souls toward our wives.

Interesting thought, when I type “lovingkindness,” it gets underlined in red because it is not part of the dictionary on this program. This term lovingkindness is not familiar to it, but may that not be the case for us in our marriages. Hopefully lovingkindness is part of our “program,” deeply embedded within our souls.

Please, let us make a small upper room

And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.” (2 Kings 4:9-10)

For today’s MDB, I want to go back to the verses we considered yesterday as we reflected upon the character of the Shunammite woman. This woman demonstrated great humility and contentment, and the Lord rewarded her for it. But for today, I want to consider her husband. Read the above verses and think about the relationship of a husband and a wife. Think about the fact that she could come to her husband with a request, that he listened to her, and he actively supported what she wanted to do.

He was approachable. There are men like Nabal (1 Samuel 25) that were not approachable, but not the husband of this Shunammite woman. They had the kind of marriage where she knew she could come to him with such a request.

He listened to her request. The man could have dismissed her, cut her off, told her her idea was silly or you fill in the blanks. That’s not what happened. They were a team in this marriage, a partnership. He considered her viewpoint, he took time to think about what she was asking. The husband listened to her dreams/visions/plans.

He supported her in what she wanted to do for the Lord. “Let us make…” implies that she wanted him to be a part of this project, too. She didn’t say, “Let me make.” They were a team. It wasn’t, this is “your thing” or “your project,” he was involved also. But to support our wives means more than just writing a check. We need to be emotionally and verbally supportive as well. If he rode her the whole way through the project reminding her of how much it costs and how much of a hassle it is, then that is not supportive, is it? Think about it, she asked her husband to take on a building/remodeling project for a man who would only occasionally come by. I’m sure he could have fired off several practical reasons as to why that wasn’t a good idea, but that’s not what he did. He supported her. That’s what we as husbands need to do, too.

This couple is like the Priscilla and Aquila of the New Testament church (Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19), who showed great hospitality and sacrifice for the church. They were a team and a partnership working for Jesus, and as husbands that requires that we have the kind of heart like his husband of the Shunammite woman. The heart to be approachable, to listen and to fully support our wives.