The heart of her husband trusts in her

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain (Proverbs 31:11).

Trust. The husband of the virtuous woman here in Proverbs 31 is said to have complete trust in his heart for his wife. Let’s think about what that means, and what that looks like.

Many of you have probably taken part in some training seminar or camp where they made you do the “trust fall.” It’s really difficult for a lot of us to trust that when we fall backward, that the person behind us will be there and be able to catch our fall. In order to do that, we have to give up some measure of control. We also have to assume that the person behind us will do the right thing.

The fact that this husband trusted his wife means:

  1. He didn’t have to check into all her actions, decisions and words. She didn’t need a babysitter.
  2. He didn’t make all of the decisions. Look at all of the decisions, both in her business and in her home dealings; she made lots of choices on her own without her husband having to think for her.
  3. He assumed that she was doing the right thing and he wasn’t away from her worried about how she was going to behave.
  4. His heart was at peace when it came to his wife.

Sometimes we have trust issues, because we don’t trust ourselves. When we are not at peace in our own souls, we look at others assuming that they have the same problems. We try to control others because things are out of control in our own hearts. But this husband was not that way toward his wife. He had his life, and his business and his relationship with God, and it seems that he was at peace with it. He didn’t have to overreach into her life and try to micromanage her life to appease his own troubled conscience.

So, think about this husband today, men, and consider how much he truly loved his wife to let her be her own person and make her own decisions. I do not mean that we live in our marriages as complete individuals and that we are not in union and accountable to each other. But we also must remove the desire to control and manage, and trust that others in our lives, specifically our wives, will make the right decisions.

Hebrews 6:9 – Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation

Different, Not Wrong

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(James 3:13-18)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:14)

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
(Romans 12:18)

Strive for peace. Be open to reason. Live peaceably with all men. Those are directives from Jesus, and they apply to marriage, don’t they?

Are there occasions where you and your wife fuss about things that are really a matter of opinion? Dumb question, I know we all do that from time to time. How the house gets cleaned, and in what order…opinion. Whether the toilet roll feeds from the top or the bottom of the roll…opinion. Do you squeeze the tube of toothpaste it the middle of the tube or from the end of it? Opinion.

It may be that you have a very passionate and convincing argument as to why things have to be a certain way, and you may be absolutely convinced you are right, but what if your wife has a different opinion? What if she makes decisions that are different that what you think should be done?

We should ask ourselves, is it wrong, or is it just different?

Do we find ourselves bringing up our viewpoints often in various ways to remind our wives that we don’t like their opinions and ways of doing things? Are we making fun of and using sarcasm to take shots and how they are doing things different than what we would do? Is this a control thing for you that you need to get right with Jesus? If so, then the spirit of Christ needs to rule in our hearts. His peace must also reign supreme. I believe that if we are truly at peace with God, then someone else’s alternative opinions and approaches would not bother us so much.

Before we say something or bring up how our wives do something different and not in line with our approach to things, let’s come to the throne room of God and ask for His wisdom and peace in the matter. How about talking to a wise godly brother in Christ and consulting him privately about it? And by the way, don’t just pick someone you know will agree with you. 🙂

Different is just that, it’s different. It might make you irritable or uncomfortable, and it might even challenge you to restudy your own convictions. But different many times is not wrong.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
(1 Peter 3:7)

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Man, time just continues to blow by!

Today I want to share with you a psalm of blessing. Psalm 20. Meditate upon the blessings that David through the Spirit of God wishes for God’s people.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah. May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
(Psalms 20:1-9)

Think of the areas of life that these blessings cover:

  • Our worship.
  • Our prayers.
  • Our salvation.
  • Our relationship to the things of this world.
  • Our relationship to political leaders.
  • Our plans and heart’s desires.
  • Our confidence, trust and hope.

It is a reminder to me that God’s blessings cover every aspect of my life. God wishes to bless His children in all areas of their existence.

I really like that the Holy Spirit led David to write that God wants to bless your plans and heart’s desires. Of course, we must make sure that those plans are in line with God’s word. But keep in mind that God encourages you and smiles upon you when you have plans and seek to fulfill the desires of your heart (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10). It may be going back to school. Maybe you are going to work on your finances, or make improvements to living a healthier lifestyle. Your plans may be to start a business, or go on a family vacation. Maybe you plan to spend more time with your Christian brothers and sisters. Regardless, God wants you to dream, plan and have an imagination. Go for it!

Let’s start this New Year in 2018 thinking of how richly blessed we are, and how God wants to continue to bless us. Also remember that our desires and plans are encouraged by God, as long as we line our wills with His.

Joseph, Being a Just Man

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-25)

Here are a few quick observations about Joseph:

  1. They were betrothed, but they had not “come together.” Joseph showed honor for Mary and for God by keeping their relationship pure (Hebrews 13:4).
  2. Being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame. When he found out about Mary’s pregnancy, he did not cast off his love and respect for her. He thought of what was best for her. He didn’t want to make a public spectacle of her. Joseph refused to put her to shame.
  3. But as he considered these things. He was not hasty in judgment. This young man took his time to really think about what to do. I’m sure all kinds of thoughts swirled around in his mind, but with God’s help and with patience, he deeply contemplated the next step.
  4. He listened to God and did as He was commanded by the angel. God was asking him to do some hard stuff, and Joseph was really walking by faith here. He had to trust God and Mary’s word, and he did it.
  5. Joseph “knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” Even now that Joseph is officially married to Mary, and has every “right” to participate in the sexual relationship with Mary in marriage, he did not do so. He waited for months and months until after she had given birth. Joseph truly was a man of honor and conviction.

 

She Had Heard the Reports About Jesus

Mark 5:27-28 – She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

A very sick woman, desperate for healing realized that Jesus was the only hope she had in the world. She had spent all that she had on doctors and only grew worse. Then the news came of the great Physician, and her hope revived. This poor woman had to be very weak considering she was dealing with some kind of blood issue for 12 years. But her faith gave her strength to push through to Jesus in order to touch His clothes.

Consider her faith for a moment. Her conclusion in faith was that she didn’t have to call out to Jesus and beg for Him to personally come to her. All she needed to do was touch the hem of His garment. In faith she knew His power was there and if she could just touch the hem (fringe, Matthew 9:20) of His garment as He passed by in the crowd, that would be enough.

Where did she get this faith? By hearing the reports about Jesus. I’m not sure if it is implied, but it seems like she hadn’t seen Jesus or His miracles performed before this point. She had heard the reports. Do you remember Rahab the harlot? How did she come to faith in God? By hearing the reports of what God had done in Egypt 4 decades before (Joshua 2:10).

Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes through hearing and hearing by the word of God.

The news about Jesus and His mighty works and compassion produced faith in this very ill woman. She did not see, but she heard and believed. Jesus told Thomas after His resurrection that those who do not see but believe are blessed (John 20:29).

Mark 5:34 – And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

What made her well? Faith! Where did she get that faith? By listening to the good news about Jesus. Where did the women of faith in your life get that same faith? By listening to the same reports about Jesus and coming to those same conclusions.

Another final thought about this woman. Jesus didn’t have to stop in the crowd, did He? He could have passed by and let this woman have her private miracle of healing. She would have gone on her way rejoicing. But He stopped everyone in the crowd, including His confused disciples to take note of this woman and point out her faith. She was trembling as she told Jesus and all present there what happened. Jesus lifted her faith up on a pedestal for all to see and learn.

Learning from the Widow in Luke 21

We were in Indy last week visiting family, and we heard a really insightful short talk on a Wednesday night. The brother reminded us of a familiar passage in Luke 21 about the poor widow who gave her last two coins to God.  What the brother then said was to take out the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible and read the end of Luke 20 and then read about the widow in Luke 21. So I put the text here for you to read.

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
(Luke 20:45-21:4)

The question was posed – I wonder how this widow ended up with only two coins? One really good explanation for the state of her poverty was that the Jewish leadership had “devoured” it. Instead of supporting the widows, they took advantage of them in their time of distress. Again, if you read the text straight through it sure sounds like that is the explanation for this widow’s condition. It also may explain how the “rich” in that context had so much excess of money to put into the treasury.

This concept of devouring widow’s houses is not just in Luke. Here are some other passages that address this social injustice (Isaiah 10:2; Jeremiah 7:6-10; Ezekiel 22:7; Amos 8:4-6; Micah 2:2,8; 3:1-3; Mark 12:40; 2 Timothy 3:6). These hypocritical, narcissistic Jewish leaders were even doing this garbage to their own parents (Mark 7; Matthew 15). When we take time to read passages like the ones in this paragraph, we can see how strongly God feels about it.

But that is not really the point of this article, nor was it the point of the brother who was giving that short talk. When you consider the state of things, the injustice that was going on, and the poverty of this woman, are you not impressed with her heart for God? Even in the midst of great poverty, knowing these two coins were “all” she had to live on, she still gave it all to God. Her heart was not filled with bitterness and rage against those who oppressed her, nor was she angry about her state in life. She loved God and was happy to give Him her all.

What a woman!

Sexual Immorality

Thank you, Steve Bockmiller, for writing this article on Sexual Immorality.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our society today.  It has pervaded every aspect of our lives from the internet to television to advertising to schools to businesses to government and even to churches.  We see it in a number of forms including pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.  The recent news has been full of stories concerning this subject and as more information is revealed the worse the picture gets.  It is a heinous and ugly portrait that is fraught with ruin.  As this sin surrounds us, it may seem like we are living in the most evil of times, but Solomon tells us “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Sexual immorality has been around for a long time.

When the Angels came to save Lot from Sodom, the men of the city surrounded the house wanting to sleep with them.  In Genesis 19:5 it says, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”

Shechem raped Dinah.  In Genesis 34:1-2 “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land.  And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her.”

Judah sleeps with Tamar his daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute.  In Genesis 38:15-16 it says “Judah saw her; he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.  He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.”

Samson sleeps with a prostitute.  In Judges 16:1 it says “Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her.” 

In 2 Samuel 11 David takes a walk one evening on his roof and he sees a naked woman bathing.  Instead of looking away he summons her, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, and then orchestrates her husband’s death in battle.

In I Kings 11 Solomon turns away from God due to his love of foreign women with whom God said not to enter into marriage with.  He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and even built high places for their gods.

In Leviticus 18:20-24 God warns his people of partaking in the sexual sins involved in Molech worship.  “And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her. You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.  You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.  And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it; neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean.”

Sexual immorality was an issue in the Old Testament as we can see from all of these examples.  And keep in mind this includes David who was said to be “a man after God’s own heart”.  If we fast forward to the New Testament times the picture doesn’t change much.  Paul tells the Romans “let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”  He tells the Corinthians (a place where sexual immorality was widespread) “or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.”  He tells the Ephesians “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”  Paul makes similar statements to the congregations in Galatia, Colossae, and Thessalonica.  The Hebrew writer says “let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

Sexual immorality is a sin that will captivate you, control you, and consume you.  If you have eyes and ears and feelings you are susceptible to this sin.  You must have a plan for how to deal with the temptation and it needs to start with openness and honesty.  Sexual sin can captivate you and blind you from the truth.  Have you admitted to yourself that you struggle with this?  Have you looked to God for forgiveness and strength?  Have you talked to your spouse about it?  It helps to be accountable to someone who can ask you questions and help keep you in check.  This sin is also controlling.  If you don’t get yourself under control sexual sins will control you.  Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:6 to “add to your knowledge self control.”  We talk a great deal about Bible study.  I have listened to many Bible study classes and sermons where the Preachers and Teachers drive home the point to study, study, and study.  Of course we need to read God’s word.  “They word is a lamp unto my feet” as David says in Psalms 119:105.  The problem is we don’t talk enough about discipline and self control.  Notice Peter says we need to add self control to knowledge.  You don’t need a doctorate degree to understand the concept, the history, and the scriptures about sexual immorality.  In this short article I have covered a portion of what the Bible says on the matter.  What you need to do is to control yourself.  When the temptation arises make the choice to not engage; walk away, avoid the situation, turn the TV off, or get a not-so-smart phone.  If you choose to not control yourself, this sin will consume you.  It will take you farther than you ever thought possible.  Remember the mess that David created with Bathsheba; one sin led to another.  Do you find yourself committing sexual sins and then hiding the facts, covering things up, and lying to stay out of trouble?  When we read Romans chapter 1 we are disgusted with the people who gave into sin and engaged in all kinds of evil including worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.  Verses 26 and 27 say “for their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”  Notice it says they were consumed with passion for one another.  It filled their every thought and action.  If you don’t control yourself and give in to sexual immorality, that is you.  “You are the man” as Nathan once told David.  Notice the consequence that the Hebrew writer tells us; “for if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”  You will be consumed by the fury of fire.  Don’t let that happen.  Sexual immorality is here to stay and will always impact us in some way or another.  Knowing this leads the Godly man to get himself under control and overcome.  Our families are relying on us to set the example and keep the Devil out.  Is your light shining or is the bushel of sexual immorality keeping you in the dark?

Because You Have Done This

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
(Genesis 22:14-18)

“Because you have done this” – That statement could be in between a bad choice leading to a awful consequence, but for Abraham it was quite the opposite. Abraham made a choice to obey God even when it would cost him his son Isaac. Because Abraham made this choice to obey God even through extreme sacrifice of what he held most dear, God would richly bless him and his family for generations to come.

We studied this chapter last night in a Bible study at someone’s home, and it really caused us to reflect upon the faith and trust that Abraham had in God’s promises. That trust in God’s promises led him to the conclusion that if he killed Isaac, then God would raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). He knew that God would provide, even if Abraham gave up the very things God promised him.

What a great example for leaders of homes, and what an encouragement to know that if we make the commitment to follow God fully, God will be there in our homes blessing us and providing us with wisdom and strength. Abraham said, “The Lord will provide,” and that is just as true for us today as it was for Abraham. Our job is to fully obey His voice. The calling for us is the same as it was for Abraham; don’t withhold anything from God. Don’t let anything be so valuable to us that we would not give it over to Jesus.

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
(James 2:19-24)

The Proverbs 31 Husband

I’m looking at Proverbs 31 today with a perspective not on the virtuous woman but on the husband who loved and supported her. Take some time to read through the chapter and learn about the man who was married to this wonderful woman. What kind of man was he?

He was a husband who has been taught and come to understand the precious value of a woman who fears God and walks with Him.

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:
(Proverbs 31:1)

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
(Proverbs 31:10)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30)

He was a husband who “safely trusted” in his wife. As a husband, he did not hold her back or discourage her from expressing her talents and pursuing her dreams. This man fanned the flames of encouragement. She knew he trusted her. It was clear that he supported her and was her biggest fan. He took leadership in the home among his children; those kids saw their father praising and lifting up their mother. The kids followed suit by imitating their father in praising their mother.

The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.
(Proverbs 31:11)

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
(Proverbs 31:23)

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.”
(Proverbs 31:28-29)

In verses 28-29, the husband is comparing his wife to other women, but notice how he is doing it. He doesn’t point out how other women are doing things she isn’t or that they are doing it better. He lifts her up on a pedestal and makes her the queen of the castle with his words.

Look at the verbs connected to the virtuous woman. She seeks, works, brings, rises, provides, considers, buys, plants, girds, strengthens, perceives, stretches, holds, extends, reaches, is not afraid, makes, supplies, opens her mouth with kindness (vs. 12-27). As this godly wife was doing all these things, her husband trusted her, supported her and praised her.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:31)

She may not be sitting in the gates with her husband and the other leaders/officials of the land, but her influence is truly felt there. Her own works praise her in the gates.

How do we talk to and about our wives? Do our children see an example of a man who rises up and calls her blessed? When we are “in the gates” are we lifting up our wives in praise? Do our wives know and fully understand that our hearts safely trust in them?

A Rat Wall

As many of you know we are in the process of building a new barn. The barn is a pole-barn structure. According to our township ordinance, we have to dig and pour a concrete “rat wall.” This is a 4 inch thick by 24 in deep concrete barrier that goes underground from post to post. As the name suggests, it’s intended purpose is to keep varmints and rodents from burrowing underground into the barn. Our concrete guy says its pointless and it just makes him more money, but we have to do it.

It was a lot of work, too, to dig that rat wall. Anna gathered the nephews, nieces and friends, and they worked hard for a whole day digging that trench for the rat wall. We have a lot of clay to dig through, so it can really get exhausting doing all that digging.

But it got me to thinking. The concept of creating a barrier that keeps bad critters from coming in is certainly a good idea, at least in theory. Our 5 barn cats are probably the best “rat wall” we have, though.

In our marriages, we need to think of the barrier that must be created to help keep the Devil’s varmints from invading and destroying our space. The rat wall will take a lot of hard work, and we have to dig deep and sometimes it is exhausting to go through the effort. In the end, however, it’s worth all the hard work.

In order to put a good barrier down to critter proof your marriage from Satan’s rats, here are a few things we need in that rat wall.

We need honesty and openness.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16)

We need love.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
(Galatians 5:14-15)

We need forgiveness and freedom from bitterness.

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
(Colossians 3:19)

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
(Hebrews 12:15)

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32)

Men, are you willing to dig deep with your wives and create an open and honest environment with them? Are you willing to pour that barrier of love that will protect against the biting and devouring rats of sarcasm, cynicism and cheap shots? Don’t we all need a good foundation of forgiveness and love to keep our hearts from becoming bitter from past hurts?

I may not be convinced that a rat wall is needed in a barn, but I certainly know we need to dig down a create a solid barrier in our marriages to shelter our precious and sacred relationship from the Devil’s critters.