Peaceful Tracks

“and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Do you leave peace in your tracks? When you leave a place, is there strife in your wake or did your presence leave peaceful prints behind?

My study is still looking more closely into the Lord’s Prayer and today was digging deeper into “deliver us from evil”.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:11-13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The armor of God protects us from “the schemes of the devil” but the study pointed out that if we aren’t diligent to put on the armor of God, if we dwell in unrepentant sin, we leave ourselves wide open.

Think about it:

“Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

If you entertain lies, revel in gossip and rumors, there goes your breastplate.

“and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

If you stir up strife, add coals to an already heated argument, there goes your footwear.

“in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

This is my particular struggle. I struggle with worry and anxiety. I don’t doubt God’s existence, but worrying all the time is also a lack of faith in His omniscience and His promises to take care of my needs. There goes my shield.

“And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I believe you can’t lose your salvation (which is a study for another time) so praise God for securing my helmet in spite of myself. However, if I’m not in God’s word I am completely without a sword.

This struck home this morning, especially the idea of protecting my feet with the gospel of peace.

I am mildly addicted to Twitter. Anyone who knows anything about Twitter knows that interactions there are definitely not peaceful. Does my presence there reflect how I’m called to behave?

““Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

‭‭James‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭NASB‬‬

And let’s not forget that if I obey and bring my anxiety before the Lord:

“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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I’ve got to remember that I’m called to be a reflection of God’s love and His message of salvation to the world. How I behave will reflect on my faith and people will judge what I believe based on my actions. How can I talk about salvation and the need for God’s mercy and grace if I don’t behave merciful and don’t offer a little grace to others? My witness isn’t my words, it’s how I live my life. It’s important to always remember this.

Growing Comfortable with Being Hated

“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I don’t like being disliked. I don’t think anyone does. I know not everyone is going to be my best friend, but I’d settle for cordial acquaintances. That, however, is not what God tells me to expect. Forget run of the mill dislike, I’m supposed to expect hatred.

““If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:18-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with this now, as a middle age adult with a family and well established friendships. Imagine how uncomfortable I was with this back when I started college.

When I first started college I believed that nothing was going to slow down my Christian walk. I knew there was going to be folks out there who utterly rejected the Bible and God, but I could stand up to such reject. What I wasn’t expecting to encounter was my own expanding apathy.

I just wanted to get through college and make good grades so I decided to lay low. Laying low turned into blending in. Blending in turned into conforming. Confirming meant that by the end of undergrad most of my friends would have been shocked to discover I was a Christian.

Just a hint, if no one can tell you’re a Christian, you’re doing it wrong.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NASB

““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“But you are A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The Bible is pretty clear that if you are a Christian, your friends should know that by the way you live your life. I was not a light, or a city on the hill. I was hiding under a bushel simply because it was easier. The problem with conformity is that it can lead to apathy. You begin to forget that you ever had to be vigilant.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:5-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now, not only was I hiding my faith, but I was falling into temptation without even realizing it and living my life totally indistinguishable from those around me who didn’t believe in God at all. My silence and conformity meant that I was condemning myself through silent approval.

“The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:22‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Yes, I know, the context of this verse is talking about eating unclean meat or celebrating certain days etc. but the POINT Paul is making is that you don’t want your example to lead newer Christians astray. You don’t want to be a stumbling block due to what it looks like you’re approving (or partaking) of.

“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

““Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Honestly, it’s easier to hide. No one wants to be hated. However, praise God that even in my unfaithfulness He remains faithful.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

While I had allowed myself to fall asleep for far too long, I never denied God. He continued to convict me over and over again. I am particularly stubborn so it took the birth of my son for me to realize that my life really needed to change.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I never understood what “living sacrifice meant” until I became a parent and realized that I’m supposed to be living my life in such a way that my son will be able to see God’s love through me. I had to be different. God entrusted this child to me, and it’s my job to be a good witness to my son. C’s understanding of God and his need for salvation all stem from the example I set, and believe me that kid is watching.

Does that mean I’m comfortable when, in boldly talking about my faith and trying to live my life according to God’s word, I lose old friends? Of course not. That breaks my heart, for many reasons. However, living for Christ is the whole reason I’m here.

“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I’m still learning to live with being hated. The way the world is going it will only get worse so I have to get tougher. I have to teach my son to be stronger than I am. It’s worth it though. It’s definitely worth it.

Never Enough Time

 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NASB‬‬

As a toddler mom it feels like there is never enough time. Children, or even just a single child, are a full time job. Add to that taking care of the day to day chores, and it can be difficult to carve out time to spend in God’s Word.

I joined a Bible study community called Momstrong because the book and corresponding study I bought by the founder were very mom friendly. The author knew that I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time and while she still had me looking up verses and digging into God’s Word, the amount of study wasn’t overwhelming.

Unfortunately, she has other writers working for her in the online community and whoever wrote October’s study on prayer has no clue how little time I have to get these studies into my day.

That’s the reason I didn’t post Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

I opened to my study for the day and was faced with “Read Daniel chapters 1 through 5″…

Chapters?!

That’s the Old Testament! Chapters there are so long!

By the time I was able to answer the questions I was rushed and had no time for writing out my thoughts (which I feel is where I’m able to actually think over what I learned).

By this morning I was beginning to feel stressed, which is the exact opposite of what’s supposed to happen when I study God’s Word. That’s when I remembered that it isn’t supposed to be about how much I read or how deeply I study, it’s about taking what time I have and seeking God every day.

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭92:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭69:32‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

 “I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:50‬ ‭NASB‬‬

There is power in God’s Word. The Bible is where I can find God’s commands and His promises. I can find God’s comfort and hope in His Word. Maybe I don’t always have time to read five chapters in Daniel, but even if I only have time to read one verse out of Psalms, seeking God in this Word is important. That one verse is still enough for me to reflect on God and hide His Word in my heart.

Maybe you feel you don’t have time to study your Bible every day. Trust me, I know how life gets busy. Even if all you can do is reflect on one verse, that verse will help you focus on what is important.

Not every study of mine is complex. Often they are just me trying to seek God and setting the right tone for the day ahead.

If Only I Could Bubblewrap You

““Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain. You also open Your eyes on him And bring him into judgment with Yourself. Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one! Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭14:1-5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Lately, on social media, I’ve read about a few tragic deaths of little toddlers. They were Baby C’s age! Every time I read about the loss of another sweet baby I cry and hold C just a little bit tighter.

I want to protect him. I want to keep him safe and sound and watch him grow into a kind Christian man. I’m sure that’s exactly what all of those other parents wanted as well. But even if I could wrap the kid in bubble wrap and hide him away like I do with the crystal champagne glasses, there is no guarantee he’d be safe.

As much as I want to protect my son I’m am completely incapable of knowing the future. I don’t know what will come next and I can’t even catch him every time he trips. That knowledge would be completely devastating if I didn’t have God to lean on.

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”

Matthew 6:27 NASB

I can’t add a single hour to my own life, much less to my son’s. That doesn’t mean I don’t do everything in my power to protect him. I’d give up my life to protect my son. I never fully understood that love until I met him.

When I read posts from sweet moms and dads who have lost their children my heart aches for them, and fills with worry for my own child.

My only hope is in the Lord:

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:1-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God knows the number of my days. Before Baby C was born, God knew the days ordained for him. He was the one who wove him. I’m only borrowing my sweet baby for as long as God allows. I pray that it’s for a very, very, very, very long time, but even if it isn’t I thank God so much every day for the abundant blessing my baby has been for me.

I never know what to say to someone who has lost a child. Just imagining their pain is overwhelming, and it has to be a thousand times worse to endure. The best I can do is assure them that this world is not our home and that they will see their baby again.

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.””

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:13-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I know this post seems rather macabre for a Saturday morning, but what I’m trying to say is that we aren’t hopeless. In fact, we are hopeful! We are hopeful that God is watching over our children, that He has ordained their days and knows their steps. We are also hopeful that no matter what, that death isn’t the end and that every believer we love who we’ve lost we will be able to see again. If I didn’t have this hope, every time I think about how insanely fragile life is I’d be incapacitated with worry for my son. That’s not so say I don’t still struggle with worry, but at least when I feel it coming on I have God’s Word to help me. That also means that when I hear someone is grieving the loss of a child I also have God’s Word to help comfort them and give them hope.

Sorry about two big posts in one day! I kind of needed this second study for myself, as a reminder to just trust in God.

What Have You Done

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭4:35‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I think sometimes we forget that we are dealing with an all powerful God, creator of heaven and earth. We forget that He’s the one who fixed each star in the sky and commands the thunder when to rumble and the lightning when to strike.

“He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭9:9-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

““Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits. Who can understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven? See how he spreads the lightning around him and how it lights up the depths of the sea. By these mighty acts he nourishes the people, giving them food in abundance. He fills his hands with lightning bolts and hurls each at its target. The thunder announces his presence; the storm announces his indignant anger.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭36:26-33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

““Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him. When he moves by, I do not see him go. If he snatches someone in death, who can stop him? Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’”

‭‭Job‬ ‭9:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

One of the first things I’m asked when someone learns that I’m a Christian is “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”

Folks seem to like diving into the deep end.

Many churches like to show the loving side of God. They talk about how God is love and how He wants to be your friend and how you can call out to Him for anything you need, but they tend to forget God’s sovereignty. They forget His power and might. They forget He is a righteous and just God and they most certainly forget that we are sinners who deserve His wrath not His love.

Why do bad things happen? Well, there are a few reasons.

We are living in a world tainted by sin.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭13:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Bad things happen because we are not automatons. We’ve been given free will and we are all fallen humans in a fallen world. One person’s actions can’t help but cause ripples and affect more than just themselves.

Sometimes bad things are allowed to happen in order to build us up. In the verse that started this study it was Nebuchadnezzar praising God after spending seven years (?) thinking he was a cow. God warned him that this would happen if he didn’t set aside his pride, but the king thought he was untouchable. If God shielded us from every struggle, how would we ever learn?

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver,…”

‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Want to know how you purify silver? You have to hold the silver in the hottest spot in the fire to burn away the impurities. Even better, the silversmith has to watch the silver the entire time to make sure it isn’t in the fire for too long. The smith must never take his eyes off the silver while it’s being purified.

Finally, why do bad things happen? Because this world is temporary.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭NASB

““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:42-44‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When bad things happen our first impulse is to blame God, to ask “What have You done?” or “Why has this happened?” We forget that we are talking to the almighty God. It is not our place to ask why. God in His Word has told us why. It is our place to accept what He has told us in His Word. It also makes the fact that God does care for us even more amazing.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:28-31‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I know today’s study notes are kind of rambling, but this is what stuck out to me while reading through Daniel chapter 4. That verse, “No one can ward off His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”” stuck in my head this morning. Who am I to question God’s plan? When things don’t go the way I wanted, or when tragedy happens, “Why” is the first thought in my mind. I have to remember that there are a few reasons why, and that it’s also not my place to ask. It is my place to consider every trial joy and to remember that God promises to work all things out for me good, even the bad things.

But if He doesn’t

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.””

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NASB‬‬

This won’t be a long post today, I just wanted to quickly talk about something I noticed this morning.

My study had me reading through Daniel to see an example of how we are called to live outside of the culture surrounding us. Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Much of Daniel is made up of these four living for God even when the current culture threatens them with death.

The verse above is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego telling the king that they will not bow down to his idol. What stood out for me is the part where they say, “But even if He does not [save us from a fiery death] we will not serve your gods.”

They knew God could preserve them, He had already saved them from death in Daniel chapters 1 and 2. However, they also weren’t going to test God. They knew their fate was in God’s hands and they accepted whatever He had decided for them. That’s real faith. To say hey, God can save me, but even if that’s not His plan I’ll never now down to false gods.

Paul said:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:21-24‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Paul’s point is that whether he lives or dies, it’s all to God’s glory and of his life is glorifying God then it’s all gain to him. This is faith, to be able to say I am joyful no matter what. Just think about what early Christians went through.

“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated ( men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:37-40‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Men of whom the world was not worthy.”

That gets me every time.

My Christian walk has been pretty luxurious. I’ve never been threatened, my life has never been I danger because of my faith. Sure I’ve lost a friend or two, but that’s nothing. Still, I struggled for a long time about being open about my faith. I didn’t want to offend anyone or make anyone feel like I’m trying to preach at them.

The saints mentions in Hebrews 11 faced death and lived their faith boldly for all to see. I face losing a few friends and I hesitate. How shameful!

I want to be like the men and women of whom the world was not worthy. I want to live my faith boldly and be able to say that no matter what God has planned for me, so long as my life glorifies God then for me it’s all joy.

That was it, that was my observation this morning. I have to stop conforming to the present culture and live within God’s revealed will.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Whatever Happens…

“May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m finally able to print the Momstrong Bible studies from the site I joined and go through them in the morning while Baby C plays. October was about prayer. Since I’m a toddler mom and life is total chaos, why not do the October study in November.

Today’s study was talking about this portion of the Lord’s Prayer, specifically talking about praying in line with God’s will.

At first glance it feels like this verse is saying “let whatever happens happen” which feels kind of passive. The study points out that asking for God’s will to be done doesn’t mean just following a set track of preordained events.

We are told to pray, and told that there is comfort in prayer:

“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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

We are also told that the prayer of a faithful person accomplishes much:

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

‭‭James‬ ‭5:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

However, we have to ask in faith.

“But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When we are asking for God’s will to be done, how do we know what God wills?

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.”

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Even Jesus quoted the scriptures to show what God’s will is for us as His children. God’s will leaves a lot of wiggle room when it comes to our lives and how we serve Him. When we pray, if what we want to ask for is within what we understand of God’s revealed will in the Bible, if it brings glory to God, then there is no reason NOT to make our requests known to God through prayer (with a thankful heart knowing that He will work anything out for our good).

This isn’t an excuse to make prayer similar to a Christmas Santa letter, that’s not the point, but God says that He hears ours prayers:

“The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:29‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God knows the desires of our hearts.

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“O LORD, in Your strength the king will be glad, And in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, And You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭21:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Not only does God know the desires of your heart, but if those desires bring glory to God, He probably put them there Himself.

I guess what I’m saying is, don’t ever think that prayers are empty, or that all you can ask for is that whatever will happen, happens. God hears our prayers, and He answers them. We can pray and make requests according to what we know of God’s will, and He will always take care of us.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NASB‬‬

This is why we can pray with confidence.

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Just knowing this gives me peace, no matter what happens.

Children Don’t Lead They Follow

“My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

While studying the roles of men and women in a marriage I became interested as to what role the children have in a family. We place a lot of emphasis on youth and childhood these days. More and more children are being put in front of the camera to preach at adults over the errors of our ways.

The thing is, leading adults isn’t a role designed for children.

““Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Children are told to read the scriptures, accept instruction, and honor their parents. That’s about it.

Parents have a LOT more instruction when it comes to children.

““So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭11:18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s interesting that discipline seems to be a bone of contention in modern parenting. The Bible makes it clear that if you love your children, you discipline them.

We are also called to be good examples. Not just for our children but for everyone:

“Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.”

‭‭Titus‬ ‭2:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As adults we have the responsibility to set a good example for our children, and to lead them in the right path.

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is because children are not wise. Children do not know everything. Children cannot lead.

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. How much more foolish is the adult who follows a child’s instruction?

It’s not good for man to be alone…

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Ladies, it’s our turn.

What is our role in a marriage? This study was interesting because I think our role is more nuanced.

Men can know their role by reading about how God love us. That’s throughout the Bible. Women have to look at specific examples as well as make some connections to get an idea of our role.

For starters, let’s talk about that word “helper” in Gen. 2:18. According to Strong’s that word is “ezer” in Hebrew (Strong’s H5828) and when you look it up it’s most often used when talking about God being our help in times of need.

This establishes that the word doesn’t carry connotations of slavery behind it. This isn’t a slave/master relationship between men and women, it’s a relationship of completion. Man wasn’t meant to be alone.

“So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I always found it interesting that men are commanded to love, but women are commanded to respect. Whole studies have been written about this verse. The idea that women value love more and men value respect more etc. I don’t disagree with this, but I also value having more verses to back up ideas. We are told to respect our husbands, and we are given examples of what that doesn’t look like:

“It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭25:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭21:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“A foolish child is a calamity to a father; a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭19:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Ladies, as much as I hate to admit it, I think we are more inclined to fixate on things and to talk them to death until resolved. In same translations “quarrelsome” is translated as “nagging”. This treatment, constantly arguing and complaining, isn’t something you do when you respect that person. When you respect someone you trust that they hear you and that they will follow through with their word. Maybe our husbands need an extra reminder, but there are ways of doing this without becoming a drip.

“For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:14, 16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Just because your husband may not be fulfilling his role, that doesn’t mean you can stop fulfilling yours. Your faithfulness to God’s will can bring holiness to your marriage. You can be a light to your husband through your actions, which is why it is important to obey God and respect your man. That respect can become inspiration for him to be a better man.

God created an order to marriage. We talked yesterday about how men are the head of the family. We are told to submit to that authority:

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:21-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A husband following God’s plan will love the wife self sacrificially and take her into account while leading the family. Even if he isn’t following God’s plan, we still have to follow God’s commands and try our best to submit to our husbands (unless they tell us to renounce God!).

The thing is, this doesn’t mean women are to sit around waiting for instructions. We are given an amazing example of a strong wife in the Proverbs 31 woman:

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:10-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Her husband trusts her. This is important! Any good leader delegates. A husband who trusts his wife hands over responsibilities in the marriage to her and her judgement.

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:16-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

She inspected and bought a vineyard! That is no small feat. I’m not qualified to inspect a vineyard. This is not some shrinking violet. This is a strong partner in marriage. Her husband trusted her and she started her own successful business.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:25-27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

She is wise and gives kind instructions. Her husband trusts her to run the house. I like to think that he seeks her opinions because he knows his wife is wise. She’s the one who is making his clothes and because she’s dressing him for success he is known at the gates:

“She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:22-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

She is a active figure behind her husband’s success! This is a partnership! This is a balanced marriage made up of love and respect for each other. In turn she is also a very successful businesswoman.

The Proverbs 31 woman was the very first overachiever. Read the whole passage and you will see what I mean. This woman was making money hand over fist.

I’m not even going to get into how children fit into this equation! This study is long enough!

Ladies, we are called to respect our husbands. We are told to submit to their authority in the relationship. When our husbands are following God’s will this is easy because they are in turn putting us first, listening to our needs, and loving us unconditionally. No relationship between two sinners is perfect, but if we keep seeking God’s wisdom and follow His instructions the pattern of our marriage can be two people considering each other’s needs first. The Bible wants us to put others first, not only in marriage but in all relationships.

A Man’s Role

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:24-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Recently I got into a debate with a Twitter personality who has been warping the biblical guidelines God has given us for how to have a successful marriage. She has taken the concept of submit and has turned the wife into the slave of the husband down to her very physique which, according to this person, should be kept slim or else the husband has every reason to cheat.

Watching God’s structure for a good marriage be so drastically ripped out of context and twisted always gets my blood boiling. A relationship between two sinful humans is hard enough without all of these false ideas skewing the instructions we have that help make a marriage work.

The only way for me to calm down is to do my own Bible study and set the record straight. Today we will focus on the head of the family, the husband, and tomorrow we will look at the wife’s role.

The Bible says the man is the head of the family:

“For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

At the end of the day when you have two people trying to work together someone has to have the final say. A ship can’t have two captions and unfortunately that includes relationships. Sorry, couldn’t pass up a bad pun.

Being the head of the household isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, however.

Who did God hold accountable when Abraham told Sarah to lie to Abimelech and say she was Abraham’s sister?

Abraham, that’s who.

Sarah obeyed her husband and wasn’t held accountable. (Genesis 20:1-16)

For that matter who did God hold accountable when Sarah doubted she’d ever have a baby and told Abraham to take her servant to bed?

Yeah, Abraham, again.

Sarah was wrong to doubt God, but Abraham was wrong to fall for his wife’s doubt. (Genesis 16:1-16) Being the head of the family means being the one to take the punishment when the family isn’t following God.

Men are also told to loves their wives as Christ loves the church.

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

How does Christ love the church?

“and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.””

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s love for us is self sacrificial. He gave up His only son for us. Not just that, but He loved us first, long before we loved him.

God listens.

He asks us to come to Him in prayer, to bring Him our worries and our requests and He listens to us.

God’s love is unconditional. Nothing can separate us from His love.

That’s how God expects a husband to love his wife.

That is not a master slave relationship. That is not ruling the home with an iron fist. That is not dismissing the wife’s thoughts or cares because she’s the weaker vessel. Being the head of the family involves a lot of sacrifice and putting yourself second as you take care of your family’s needs.

I’m going to end with the 1 Peter verse I began this study with because I think its message is important.

I promise tomorrow I will preach at the women folk cause we have our roles as well and we struggle with those. Meanwhile, remember, marriage is ultimately meant to be a partnership. It’s never perfect because none of us are perfect, but if we keep in the Bible and seek God’s wisdom not worldly wisdom the pattern of our relationships can be fulfilling.