Remember Lot’s Wife

But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
(Genesis 19:26)

Last night we had a Bible study and we looked at Genesis 19 concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As we talked about Lot’s wife being turned by God into a pillar of salt, a few thoughts were discussed in the class.

Remember not to look back to that old world.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
(Proverbs 14:14)

We are to die to sin. We are to leave that old world behind. That old world is going to be destroyed, including all those who follow in its ways. Some of those who are destroyed in that old world may be very close to you. Don’t look back. Don’t turn back. Longing and pining for the things and people in Sodom will only lead to your own destruction.

We have to love God more than family.

And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
(Matthew 10:36-37)

Lot pleaded with the men who were to marry his daughters. They took it as a joke; they didn’t take the warnings seriously (Gen. 19:14). It seems that this may have been part of the reason Lot delayed and lingered. Maybe there were more family members or close friends there that he didn’t want to leave.

What we do know is that the angels grabbed Lot, his wife and his daughters by the arms and forced them out of the city. This was because of God’s mercy upon Lot in response to Abraham’s prayers (Gen. 19:16,29). Lot was called righteous by God, but that doesn’t mean that he always made good decisions. God had to yank him out of this city (2 Peter 2:6-9). Lot was tormented by the wickedness around him in Sodom, yet he still delayed to leave Sodom. There is a point there for us, I believe.

Am I lingering in Sodom? Maybe because I’m too close to someone, it clouds my vision and I don’t stand up for what is right. How many times do we see that happen? Lot lingered in Sodom, when he (1) knew how wicked it was, and (2) he knew God was about to torch it. What or who was he so tied to that he was delaying the very thing God commanded him to do? It is something for us to reflect upon.

In our study last night, someone pointed out from Genesis 19:26 that Lot’s wife was behind him. She was turned to a pillar of salt. Lot never looked back. Whether he knew at that point or not that she had been destroyed, he didn’t turn back. He did what the angels of God told him to do. With all of his delay and hesitation while still in the city (Gen. 19:15-16), he now did exactly what God told him to do, even when his wife did not. He had the opportunity as well to look back with longing and/or sadness over the city and its people. But he kept his eyes looking forward.

Jesus used this event to teach His disciples and prepare them for the coming destruction of Jerusalem. He told them that when they saw certain signs, to get out immediately, don’t go back into their houses to get anything. Move! Go! Get out!

On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
(Luke 17:31-33)

Remember Lot’s wife today, men. Am I seeking to preserve my life and my things and my ways? Or am I walking away from Sodom without looking back?

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
(Hebrews 10:37-39)

It is more blessed to give than to receive

Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
(Acts 20:34-36)

I was thinking of this verse in regards to Hurricane Harvey and how it is a time for many to give. So many are in dire straits and because of this devastation. Recovery will be a long time coming. I’m pretty sure many understand this, but let’s remember that those in need in Texas will need consistent help over time.

But now we see Hurricane Irma on the way, and it many others are going to face the wrath of nature. Again, it will be a time to give, share, pray, cry, work, sacrifice and comfort.

Tragedies reveal the heart of man. We could focus on the negative side of humanity that comes out during tragedies, but look at the goodness of the Creator that is reflected in people in the wake of painful trials.

Those who are going through the devastation show their remarkable faith and goodness, and those who are supporting the hurting during those times reveal their kind hearts as well. From personal experience, I know that the hearts of so many people are good and kind.

The people who are pouring out money, time, listening ears and physical work to help those in Texas have their own problems, too. Those who are giving have diseases, sicknesses, family crises, financial heartache, deaths in the family, etc. But in their suffering they are not self-centered, they are outward focused.

When the apostle Paul quoted the Lord Jesus about it being more blessed to give than to receive, think of what Paul had been going through and what he was about to go through. Awful. Tragic. Yes, but Paul’s heart was heaven-centered and outward focused. He devoted his life to helping the weak and supporting others, even with all the trials and adversity he personally faced.

This is the heart of God. This is what we see in the heart of Jesus while on earth. The very night before He was arrested, tortured and slaughtered for our sins, Jesus devoted a great deal of time to helping His 12 disciples. He taught them. He served them and washed their feet. Jesus prayed for them.

Jesus lived the message He taught us. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Therefore from one man

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore (Hebrews 11:11-12).

I was always taught that when there is a “therefore” in a Bible verse you need to find out what it’s “there for.” This “therefore” in Hebrews 11:11-12 connects the faith of Sarah to the innumerable multitude that came from the loins of Abraham. It was not just Abraham’s faith and Abraham’s relationship with God that brought forth these amazing blessings from God upon generations to come.

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who promised. THEREFORE…

Sarah’s faith gave her power to conceive. See the “therefore”? Therefore Abraham became a father of multitudes. Yes God promised it, and Abraham believed it, but Sarah became pregnant because she believed it, too.

Sarah grew in faith to reach this conclusion. She had at times considered her own age and physical ability to conceive a child. When we look at passages like Genesis 16 and 18 we know that Sarah had her own growth process that she had to go through to come to the faith we see mentioned in Hebrews 11:11. Remember that Sarah gave her handmaid Hagar into the embrace of Abraham because she thought that would be the way to make God’s blessings and promises a reality (Genesis 16). It was Sarah who laughed inside her tent when she heard the men talking about her having a baby the next year (Genesis 18).

If that’s all you knew about Sarah would you have called her a strong woman of faith? If you were Abraham would you be tempted to think you are the strong one in this relationship and are carrying her along? Sarah had her moments of weakness, and she had need of growth, but look at what God did through Sarah.

Didn’t Abraham have to grow too? Abraham laughed too! When offered the handmaid Hagar, he went into her. He listened to Sarah instead of God. Abraham had his own process of growth he was going through.

All of this to say, men, that when we look at our wives who are following Jesus, know that God is doing a great work within them, and He will accomplish it (Philippians 1:6). Also know that because of that growth of faith within her, you and generations to come will be blessed immensely.

Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:28-31).

 

 

 

How Many Lessons Have You Learned?

So, I Googled “lessons on marriage” to look for ideas and resources, and I just thought it was interesting what titles I saw on the first page.

Link #1 – “40 Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage”

Link #3 – “12 Lessons Learned in 12 Years of Marriage”

Link #4 – “20 Marriage Lessons after 20 Years of Marriage”

Link #6 – “8 Lessons That Surprised Me After 8 Years of Marriage”

Hmmm…is there a pattern here?

Then there are those oddballs who apparently had more lessons per year:

Link #5 – 23 Marriage Lessons We’ve Learned Over the Last 15 Years

Link #8 – 20 Marriage Lessons We Learned From Our First Year of Marriage

So, what would your list look like? If we were to list the most fundamental lessons we have learned in our marriages, what would we write?

Another question is really, “Have I learned?” or “Am I Learning?” Do I have 20+ years of learning, or one year repeated 20+ times because I have not grown?

If you were to learn one lesson per year like these folks above, what would you say your lesson this year would be? What is the lesson you are being taught this year in your marriage?

Here’s a lesson I’m learning right now:

Don’t get so caught up in the “business” of doing that you forget to have fun and talk about the lighter things. Anna has been saying to me lately, “Give me the fluff!” In other words, don’t just talk business, schedules and to-do-lists.

This is one of those lessons that I have to keep re-learning over time. I wish I could say I learned this lesson during the first year of marriage and never had to revisit it, but that just isn’t the case.

We’ve started going out on a weekly basis with another couple from our congregation. This has been such a great time for us in our marriage, and in our relationship with two very special Christians we love dearly. Not only do we get to have some fun with each other as a couple, we get to grow in our relationship with a brother and sister in Christ. They encourage us and we encourage them, and we have fun along the way.

Along with this thought is a passage from Solomon about enjoying life and enjoying it with your wife.

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

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.”