All posts by Lois

04. The time God gives: Redeem and release

Hannah redeemed the time with her child then released Samuel to the Lord. She trusted God to go where she could not, and to manage the outcome he desired for her son’s life.

“I give him to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:28).

Hannah Leads

Samuel’s father was a Jew from the tribe of Ephraim. He was a faithful and devout follower of the Lord. However, his wife Hannah was the one who led in the dedication an giving of their son, still a small lad, to serve in the house of the Lord at Shiloh. Read their story here:

[Elkanah] had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast

Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”

“Do what seems best to you,” Elkanah her husband told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

–1 Samuel 1:2-28

Hannah did not go against her husband. He gave her his blessing in whatever seemed best to her. Hannah’s husband joined with her in the offering and giving of their son. But Hannah was still the leader in this.

Many times, even in “Christian” homes, mothers have to be the ones to lead in dedication of their children to the Lord. Sometime husbands join, sometimes they don’t.

The Bible never teaches us that we should oppose our husbands in doing what we feel is best for our children Spiritually. But if our husbands do not accept their role as Spiritual leaders, we should provide as much Spiritual leadership for our children as our husbands will permit.

Samuel Learns

“She took the boy with her, young as he was.”

Young as he was, Hannah had already managed to instill into Samuel a love for God and a desire to honor God. No doubt she had taught him he was a promise from God. No doubt she had taught him he was a gift back to God. Young as he was, she taught him he was being raised for the Lord!

Hannah Releases

“I give him to the LORD.” What a lot Hannah said with those words. She gave him to the Lord who first gave Samuel to her. When she said “I give him to the LORD,” she was saying: “I trust God to do the right thing in his life. I trust God to take over his training where I can not go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

“For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” Again what faith! There was not a hint of fear that Samuel might rebel and refuse to follow the Lord. Hannah had started him out for God. Hannah had trusted God to do what she could not do. Hannah would continue to pray that her Son would live for God. And God would bring it to pass!

Samuel Worships

And he worshipped the Lord there. The boy, “young as he was,” worshipped the Lord. He was being taken from his mother, given to a strange environment where he had never been (see v. 22), yet he worshipped the Lord.

No wonder Hannah could rest assured for her Son’s future. She had taught him to love the Lord his God above everything else and to trust God no matter what. “Young as he was,” he understood enough to worship God even in the face of being taken from his mother and his home.

Application

We may not have a lot of time with our children. Hannah had only the very earliest years of her son’s life. Some parents have only every other weekend or less. Some have their children only a few years until death calls the parent home. Some have them every day, but the influence of another parent in the home threatens to train their children the wrong way.

But if we use the time God does allow us to train our children for him, we, like Hannah, can trust that God will take over where we can not go to see that our children fulfill his promise!

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Thought to Remember

When Hannah said “I give him to the LORD,” she was saying: “I trust God to do the right thing in his life. I trust God to take over his training where I can not go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

Questions for Discussion

  1. Which parent should lead in the dedication and raising of their children for the Lord?
  2. At what age are our children old enough for us to begin training them in the way they should go?
  3. How much time does it take to raise our children for God?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

03. Living God’s Word: Teaching our children day by day

As mothers, our first responsibility, and God’s #1 commandment to parents, is to love God supremely. We’re to live and teach God’s Word to our children day by day, moment by moment.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart….” (Matthew 22:37).

Our First Responsibility

As mothers, our #1 responsibility is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might. Jesus crowned all the commandments with this one. And this is God’s first commandment for parents in Deuteronomy 6:5.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

We will not be perfect parents. There will always be more we could have done. But if our treasure is in God all along the way, we will constantly look to Him for leadership.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

We are to love the Lord supremely, and keep obedience to God foremost in our hearts. We are to teach our children that God is to be #1 in their lives also. We are to talk about obedience to God’s precepts throughout the day at every opportunity. God is to be so much a part of our lives that our love for him flows naturally into conversation and action.

He knows what he has planned for each child. He knows we have already missed the mark of his perfect plan. That’s why he sent the Savior to redeem those who will look to Him.

Only he knows the way from where our children are to where he wants them to be. We may lead them in general terms, but only God knows how to get there from here. The Holy Spirit will impress upon us that little extra we are to do at this moment to help that individual son or daughter to see God more clearly.

We are to teach our children the Word of God. We are to read it, talk about it, love it, honor it, reverence it, obey it, memorize it, and treasure it. We should tell our children often that, while we may not have many earthly riches to give them, we give them a gift far greater than all the riches in the world, our most valued treasure, the Word of God.

Our Promise

What an inheritance we give them! And we have this promise: Every nugget from God’s Word that we put into our children’s minds and hearts will not return void, but will accomplish God’s purpose in their lives.

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

What a promise!

Day by Day

The Bible says we are to teach our children little by little as we go through the years with them. Little by little, year by year, day by day, moment by moment. We may only have moments that are ours to teach our children God’s precepts. But let us make those moments count.

“Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule ; a little here, a little there” (Isaiah 28:9-10, NIV).

“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10, KJV).

God Will Do It

The God who fed a multitude with a little boy’s lunch (John 6:8-13) will multiply our moments also if we do the best we can to raise our children for God in the moments he gives us!

Were it up to us to make sure our children did not depart from the training we give them, what hope would there be? But God is the one who has called us to train them in the way they should go. And God is the one who has promised that they will not depart from our training. And God is the one who is faithful. God will ever remind them of the training we’ve woven into their lives.

The further they stray, the more he will call to mind what we’ve taught them about him. God will never let them go.

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

What a mighty God we serve!

Application

Give God the #1 place in your life today. Begin to teach your children God’s principles little by little, day by day, as you go through everyday life with them. Ask God to help you and trust him to guide each step of the way.

Thought to Remember

The further our children stray, the more God will call to mind what we’ve taught them about him. God will never let them go.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is God’s #1 commandment for parents?
  2. How do our shortcomings as parents affect God’s promises?
  3. How do we know the way each individual child should go?
  4. What is the most important thing we are to teach our children?
  5. How are we to train our children?
  6. Whose responsibility is it to make sure our children do not depart from the Scriptural training we provide?
  7. Where can we get the wisdom we need to train our children?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

02. Finding God’s way: Help for parents

Help for problems facing parents: The first step is do what God shows you, then he will show you more. Start now. Don’t wait until you understand it all, or can do better.

What is the first step?

The Problem

“He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek (Acts 16:1).

Timothy’s father couldn’t lead his son in the way he should go, because Timothy’s father wasn’t walking in the way he should go himself. The first step is that we line our lives up with the way God would have us to go.

In order to do this, it helps to look back at Adam and Eve. At first, Adam and Eve did everything according to the way God would have them to go. But enter the serpent and the apple. After that, they could never again measure up to God’s plan for them. Neither could their offspring, because their offspring would inherit the flawed nature and pass it on down through the ages to all mankind. Adam and Eve were remorseful, but they were also helpless.

The Promise

God gave the first glimmer of hope when he promised a Savior for Adam and Eve and all their offspring in a conversation with the serpent:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

–Genesis 3:15, 21

God still cared for Adam and Eve. In his compassion for them, God made coats of skins to cover their shame. But Adam and Eve had spoiled the perfect creation of God.

After that no one could walk totally in the way he should go, but down through the ages God continued to promise a Savior. God revealed more and more about himself and the Savior he would send. God led those who would believe his promise of a Savior in the way they should go. And those who believed were willing to follow God’s leadership.

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). What the Bible says of Abram was true of all those who believed God: God later changed Abram’s name to Abraham which means “father of many nations.” Abraham is the name he is usually known by today.

This promise was renewed over and over to the people God had chosen to spread the good news about the coming Savior–the Jewish race. Finally the Savior arrived. And when He arrived, God had something very special to reveal about the Savior: the Savior was God’s own Son! No one else could qualify.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Rejection

But the Bible says His own people, the people who had been given the promise, did not receive the Savior:

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12).

This is incredible! First God promised a Savior. Then He sent his own Son as the Savior. But the very people He had been preparing to receive the Savior did not even recognize Him.

The world today for the most part does not recognize the Savior either. Our instinct and our conscience tell us we are missing something, that we are not all we should be. We try to do better. We try to fix our spoiled nature by being religious, by giving to the poor, by participating in ceremonial rituals. But we continue to have this guilty feeling that somehow we are not complete. God sent the Savior to “fix” us, but we don’t even notice.

The Solution

Still God’s love can not be thwarted. God continues to offer everyone the opportunity to receive the Savior. And those who receive His Son come into God’s family and become God’s very own children. This is more than the prophets could ever imagine!

Today, God still leads those who believe in His Son, the Savior, just as he did before Christ came. And those who believe are willing to follow God’s leadership just as then.

What a great God, to give His own Son for us when we were disobedient to his plan. This thing is bigger than you and I can fathom! We cannot imagine what He has in store for us when we become his own children. The prophet Isaiah knew the prophecy he proclaimed was more than even he could understand:

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

The Apostle Paul commented on Isaiah’s words:

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

–1 Corinthians 2:9-10,12,14,16

The Bible says it is only as we receive God’s Spirit that we can even begin to understand the magnificence of all of this. The Bible says the natural man–the spoiled human race–can never receive these things because they are foolishness to him.

The Time

The first step is to determine not to wait until we understand or until we can do better to get started. It is simply to receive the Savior right now by believing that he died on the cross to pay the price for our sin (going our own way instead of following God). Then we will be willing to follow as God leads us in the way we should go. Only then can we begin to understand. Only with his help can we “do better.”

Application

If you have not already done this, take time right now to tell God that you don’t want to live according to your way any more, but according to the way God would have you go. Tell him you believe in the Savior he has sent, and that you are ready to receive this Savior into your life.

The Scripture quoted above from 1 Corinthians describes the miracle that will happen for you then. You will receive the not only the Savior, but also the Spirit of God. God will begin to help you understand things the natural man–the spoiled human race–can never understand. Things that seemed foolish before will become very precious. Verse 16 says you will actually have the mind of Christ to guide you!

God has provided a way to give a new start to those who will receive the Savior. Talk to him now. Tell him you are ready to receive the Savior and to receive a new start. He wants to become your Savior, and He is waiting for your invitation!

We’ve gathered some materials to help you with this important step. If you have just had this conversation with God, or if you’d like more help, please visit our Seekers page.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is involved in getting this to work?
  2. What is the first step?

Thought to Remember

The first step is to start now. Don’t wait until you understand more, or can do better. God has shown you what to do now. When you do that, he will show you more.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

01. Train a child: Just one will do

An unbelieving spouse, grandparents, sick parents, incarceration, jobs, divorce, foster parents, adoptive parents, visitation rights, guardianships, and custody situations influence training children at home.

“Train a child in the way he should go….” (Proverbs 22:6).

Circumstances

Circumstances sometimes prevent us from being able to train our children as we wish.

There are single parent homes whose children spend time with other parents out of God’s will. There are divided homes where one parent out of God’s will lives in the home. There are grandparents who have the grandchildren part-time. There are sick parents, parents in prison, parents whose jobs call them away from home. There are foster parents, adoptive parents, visitation rights, legal guardianships, and child custody battles.

Circumstances, unfaithfulness of others, and situations beyond our control do play a part in the development of our children. Negative influences may encourage them to take wrong paths sometimes. But if one Christian parent or guardian adheres closely to what God tells that individual parent to do, no matter what other influences in her child’s life, that child will not depart from what that parent taught him. Gods Word says so!

Promise

The Bible says: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The New International Version indicates “train” can even mean “start”. Moses’ mother only got to start Moses in the way he should go. Samuel’s mother the same. But look what great men of God these sons were!

If we as individual parents do all we can to train our children to follow Him, God says they will not depart from our training. The home should be a Spiritual incubator to nurture our children to Spiritual maturity. But even in our sin-sick world where homes are divided and our children sometimes take wrong paths, we have this promise: Our children can never get away from the Spiritual principles we instill in their minds!

Timothy

Consider the example of Timothy’s family:

“He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1).

Timothy’s mother was a Jewess. The Jewish nation believed in the one true God, although they did not always follow him and sometimes even worshiped pagan gods. Occasionally someone from the other nations would believe in the one true God also, but this was rare. The rest of the world for the most part served only pagan gods when Timothy was growing up.

Acts 16 says of Timothy, “whose father was a Greek.” The Apostle Paul wrote this to Timothy:

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

Paul excluded Timothy’s father from his reference to the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. These Scriptures indicate that Timothy’s father did not believe in the one true God.

Timothy’s father probably led him according to pagan ways. He probably taught Timothy to follow the world. But Timothy’s mother and grandmother had the faith to believe that if they trained young Timothy in the way he should go he would not depart from the training they gave him. They did not sit around and pine because Timothy’s father was an unbeliever. They simply did what God said to do, and that was enough. The ideal is that both parents lead their children in the way they should go. But if one parent doesn’t, this does not cancel God’s promises to the parent who does. God will honor his promise if one parent will do what God says to the best of her ability!

What is involved in getting this to work? This is what we will discover from Scripture during the upcoming days. God’s part is to keep His promises to us, and he always does. We will talk more about this, and we will also talk about how to do our part. In the next session, we will start with the first step.

Application

God always has something very special to give you when you open His Word. Pray now and ask him to show you what he has for you in this Bible study.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3.)

Questions for Discussion

  1. What does the Bible mean by the word “train?”
  2. Who does the Bible say must do the training of our children in order for them not to depart from the way they should go?
  3. If a child is exposed to the wrong training consecutively with the right training, does this negate the promise?
  4. What is the “right” training?
  5. Does the phrase, “when he is old” indicate he might “sow his wild oats” first?
  6. This sounds good, but I don’t have an ideal home. Will this work in my circumstances?

Thought to Remember

They simply did what God said to do, and that was enough. The ideal is that both parents lead their children in the way they should go. But if one parent doesn’t, this does not cancel God’s promises to the parent who does.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

00. Called to be a mother: Introduction

Between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope, I found faith to know that God was working in my children’s lives in ways I couldn’t see just yet.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry!

Author’s Preface

These sessions were written in the mid 1990’s, between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope. My last child was a teenager then, and we were going through some rugged times. I went to God’s Word for help, and this Bible study is the result. From the beginning, I wrote it in a format to share, because the things God was showing me were too wonderful to keep to myself. As I’ve moved them to our new site in March of 2009, I’ve added sub-headings and made minor editorial changes for clarity.

Chapters 1-19 were written while my son was home. He moved out a few days before he turned 18, and chapters 20 and 21 were written about three years later as I continued to wait for God’s answers. It was not until my son was in his early-to-mid-twenties that I first saw God’s transformations in his life. But, all along, I knew he was working in a way that I couldn’t see just yet.

My son will be thirty this year. He is a committed Christian, a great father, and a productive citizen. He is married to a former missionary from Turkey, and they are serving the Lord together.

My oldest, a daughter, is also serving the Lord. Her work as a CNA gives her many opportunities to show God’s love to the patients she cares for. She is a mother, and we have done this “Called to Be a Mother” Bible study together with local friends several times.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry.
Lois

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Alone in Moab

Naomi may have grieved to leave God’s promised land, but she followed her husband to the heathen Moab. As a result, she became great-grandmother of King David, an ancestor of Christ.

“The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son'” (Ruth 4:17).

God’s Plan for Women

Today many women are finding themselves alone, rejected and vulnerable. The Women’s Libbers of the 1960’s will tell you that we’ve made great progress in correcting this. But Women’s Lib has done more to destroy the true liberation of women than anything else in history. God says:

“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3)

God’s desire is for women to be very important members of society. He has provided an especially protected position for us. God desires that women be productive, but also esteemed highly by their husbands, fathers, and other male kinsmen/protectors:

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7)

Man may fail to do this. He may leave a woman vulnerable, or even abuse her himself. But, oh, the protection a woman of God has at this time! No longer is she dependent on the mercy or care of the man. If she has been faithful to follow God in submission to the authority he has placed over her, God himself will step in to intervene for the woman who is betrayed, rejected, deserted, or abused.

God intends her to be cherished and protected. As long as she follows him in faithful obedience, he will move heaven and earth if necessary to be her provider and sustainer. He will cherish her and protect her in his own watch care and love.

Rachel

“Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years” (Genesis 29:30).

Ladies, would you choose to be Rachel or Leah? Any woman would chose to be Rachel, the most loved wife. But Look what God did for Leah. In light of eternity, he gave her the far better position!

When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children

–Genesis 29:31-35.

When Leah lived, a woman without a man was basically outcast and helpless. To have male sons secured a woman’s future. Without male sons, she had little protection or hope in society if her husband died.

Leah’s child Ruben was Jacob’s firstborn son. Rachel’s womb was barren for the first few years. God enabled Leah to have the first sons. Why? Verse 31 indicates God saw her plight and intervened.

God chose Leah’s son Levi as priest to for special communication between God and the people. All the priestly line, the Levites, were offspring of her son Levi.

By the time Judah came, God had used her faithfulness and obedience to grow her in peace regardless of her second-rate position in her home. She was able to say with joy, “This time I will praise the Lord.”

The most glorious blessing of all, one that every Hebrew woman craved, was given to Leah, not to Rachel. Leah’s son Judah is the father of the tribe from which Jesus, God’s son, would come!

If you are a despised, rejected, lonely woman remember: Jesus especially looks after the woman whose plight is this, if she honors him and is obedient to his will. He made woman to be protected. He himself will be her special protector and will cherish her with tenderness when the man she is in submission to fails to provide that!

Naomi

“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there” (Ruth 1:1-2).

Naomi was one of God’s chosen people. Suddenly she found herself alone in Moab.

There is no evidence from Scripture that God told Elimelech to leave the promised land and go the the heathen land of Moab. No, God had promised the children of Israel that he would supply all their needs in the land of promise that he had given them.

Apparently Elimelech decided that God needed some help in this. When the famine came, instead of trusting the promise of God, he moved his family to a heathen land for sustenance.

Naomi went with her husband. She was submissive to her husband’s leadership. Possibly her own heart told her this was not the best solution. Her tender womanly spirit may have made her grieve at leaving God’s promised land to go to a heathen world. But she was obedient to God’s command to follow her husband’s leadership.

It is very possible that Elimelech went to Moab in disobedience to God and that Ruth went there in obedience to God.

What did she get for her obedience? Her husband and sons died and left her totally alone in a heathen land. She had no means of support, no family except these two heathen daughters-in-law that her sons had married. Anyone not of the chosen race of Isarel was considered heathen. But were her daughters-in-law really heathen?

Obviously they both cherished their mother-in-law. Naomi must have shared with these two women about God and the promised Messiah. Ruth trusted in this promise. She trusted enough to leave her home and country and return to the land of promise with Naomi.

God honored Ruth’s faith by providing a husband for her. He provided a son to “heathen” Ruth, a son who was ancestor to King David, and ultimately to the Messiah himself!

What happened to Naomi who was left alone in Moab because of her trust in and submission to God?

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!

He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.

The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

— Ruth 4:14-17

The child was not even a blood relative of Naomi: “Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz” (Ruth 2:1).

Ruth was her daughter-in-law from Moab. Boaz, the one Ruth married and father of their son Obed, was a relative of Naomi’s husband Elimelech.

Yet the Bible says the women proclaimed: “Naomi has a son.”

In God’s eyes Naomi has a son too, just as if he were from her own blood line. God overruled the blood line to bestow upon Naomi the honor of being considered the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus himself!

What About You?

Are you alone in Moab? If you went there of your own choosing, Jesus bids you to turn, come back to his promised land. But if you followed God to Moab, you can rejoice. You are not rejected. Do not be afraid. Trust in God, and he will bring you all the way home.

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, `You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:9-10).

Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, that we have such a great and mighty promise, and that as women we are so loved and cherished and protected that you provided this special place of watch care near your heart.

Thank you that you will never leave us vulnerable as long as our hope is in you.

Thank you for the promises from your word Lord and the stories in the Bible of God’s faithful women.

We ask for grace, Lord, to be God’s faithful women that will live for you in all circumstances and we thank you that you will bring us safely all the way.

Amen.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Difference between men and women

I found this piece fascinating when I first read it quite a few years ago. Though it is meant to be humorous, it is filled with truth. It helped me understand the difference in how men and women think. I hope it helps you, also.

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time.

A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while, neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

Then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: “Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

And then there is silence in the car…. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gee, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward. I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: So that means it was ..let’s see …February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means…lemme check the odometer. Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed-even before I sensed it-that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. Scumbags!

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, school girl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and tell them what they can do with it!!

“Roger,” Elaine says aloud.

“What?” says Roger, startled.

“Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. “Maybe I should never have… Oh boy, I feel so…” (She breaks down, sobbing.)

“What?” says Roger.

“I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs. “I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

“There’s no horse?” says Roger.

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine says.

“No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

“It’s just that… it’s that I… I need some time,” Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) “Yes,” he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.) “Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says.

“What way?” says Roger.

“That way about time,” says Elaine.

“Oh,” says Roger. “Yes.”

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

“Thank you, Roger,” she says.

“Thank you,” says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn.

Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s, will pause just before serving, frown, and say, “Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?”

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the difference between men and women!

This piece has been around the internet quite a bit and is often published without author’s name or copyright, but it is generally attributed to Dave Barry.

What we believe about submission

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1 NIV).

Submission guidelines for our Hope in a House Divided email group

1. Truths we believe about submission
We will not debate whether or not submission to our husbands is what the Bible teaches

  1. Our first responsibility is to God.  God is supreme.
  2. Our second responsibility is to our husbands.
  3. God’s Word teaches that we are to be submissive to our husbands.   Anything short of submission to our husbands is rebellion against God.
  4. Differences:
  • We may find differences in our individual situations of how that submission is to be applied, and we can discuss them here.
  • We may find differences in our understandings of how far that submission is to go, and we can discuss that here.
  • We will not challenge the fact that God’s Word teaches that our husbands are appointed by God to the role of leadership and we are appointed by God to be submissive to that leadership.

2. What is submission?
A Biblical concept of submission

  • Submission is meekness.  Jesus demonstrated meekness
  • Meekness is not a doormat.  Meekness is in control.  Doormats are stepped on and have no choice.  They don’t like their plight, yet they know of no other way.  They submit begrudgingly and resignedly.
  • Meekness says, “I am able to make my own decisions.  I know some better ways to do things.  I can choose how I wish to handle this.  My choice is to be obedient to God in submission to my husband.  My choice is to give up the better ways I know and trust God’s better ways.”
  • Submission is not disobedience to God’s Word.
  • Submission is not committing adultery, doing drugs, lying, stealing, or breaking any of God’s other black and white laws. Submission is not putting yourself or your children in physical danger.
  • Submission is not catering to your husband’s every whim.
  • Submission sometimes stands up for itself in a loving but firm manner.  (An example of when this might be needed is in the following situation:  A husband is indecisive and wants to play back and forth on leadership, giving the wife opposing commands so that either way she goes he can blame the results on her.  He is not really wanting to be the leader.  He is wanting his wife to lead, yet he wants to step in and insist on his way when it is convenient.)
  • We do not mean by this that we should commit overt sin.  We believe that, if we look hard and pray, God will make a way out so we don’t have to do that.  But, we do not tell any woman to commit overt sin because her husband commands it.

3. Mutual submission
Submit to one another

  • The Bible teaches mutual submission. It teaches that the husband is to respect the wife’s desires and what is best for her. We are to seek to please one another.
  • Even the most “mutual” of marriages has to have someone designated to make the final decision if the two can’t agree on the issue. Otherwise it will become “unmutual” and there will be constant pulling in opposite directions until some sort of truce is reached.
  • We cannot change our husbands.
  • We can and are responsible before God to change ourselves to follow God’s role for us in our marriages.

See also Lois’ Daughters of Sarah Bible study.

Email support group guidelines


“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

1. Group Privacy Issues: Our goal is to provide a comfortable place for women to share.

We will try to focus less on our husbands shortcomings, and more on what God wants US to be. However, our husbands weaknesses will come up from time to time as we deal with the issues that divide our homes.

There is the potential that a husband could read e mail in a joint account. If this is a concern, we recommend that you go to Hotmail or Yahoo and secure an email address for use in the group. Email can then be read and responded to from the web. You should be aware that anyone else, including husbands, can join the group under an assumed name and read group messages.

Because of the way our system is set up, you must post with the email address you used to join the group. If you wish to post with a serperate address, you must join the group with that email address as well.

2. Confidential Information Issues: Personal information shared by members of this group is not to be shared outside the group under any circumstances.

We deal with sensitive issues here. Some of the ladies may not want others to know they are members of this group. Please respect everyones privacy and do not divulge the names of group members outside of the group.

From time to time we may create group material as we work together to develop a list of resources for common needs. The completed material will be edited in such a way as to minister to many people, and may be placed on the Hope in a House Divided website. At no time will we include names, locations, or any other information that could betray the confidence of situaions or individuals. The purpose of such material would be to provide a resource to which we can refer.

3. Women Only Issues: Our email group is limited to women only.

We recognize that many men face the same situations, and may have some of the same needs, that we face. Men may request help for their needs by writing to the Director of our Men’s Ministry here. We realize that input from men could be beneficial to us, and vice versa. However, we are also very aware that thier roles, and thier struggles, are very different from ours. We feel that limiting our group to women only will provide a more comfortable atmosphere for discussing our needs.

Members should be aware that, since anyone can join the group under a fictitious name, there is no way to absolutely guarantee that there are no men in the group.

4. Conduct and Courtesy Issues: Members are to conduct themselves with courtesy and respect toward each other.

At no time will rudeness or unkindness toward another individual be tolerated. Anyone displaying such behaviour will be removed from the group.

Please do not write in all caps. This is sometimes considered “screaming” when used in internet communications. Please reply in plain text only. Some email programs have difficulty downloading anything else.

Please remember to delete all but the last letter to which you are replying. In some countries, internet service is paid for by the minute. We can keep costs down for our members in these countries by deleting unnecessary posts and using only plain text.

5. Group Theme and Mass Mailings/Copyright Use: The theme of our group is Hope In a House Divided. We seek to emphasize the Biblical principles that will help us to be the women God would have us to be despite physical, emotional, or spiritual division in our homes.

Poems or short readings in keeping with this theme will be permitted. We ask that members not submit email chain letters, mass mailings, or items not related to the theme of our group. No political mailings of any kind will be permitted.

We ask that our members consider very carefully sharing anything with the group that is copyrighted. Quotes from books or any other copyrighted source must be brief, and full credit to the author/publisher must be given.

6. Prayer Requests: You may send prayer requests for personal needs, and for your immediate family.

For prayer requests for other needs, we suggest submitting them to a group that has prayer as its main focus.

7. Doctrinal Issues: Any instruction or teaching, including devotionals, should be submitted only by designated group leaders all of whom have agreed to abide by our Statement of Faith.

We discourage doctrinal discussions as such, except as it relates to our topic of Hope in a House Divided.

However, if someone has a genuine question about how to know Christ, we will always take time to share Christ openly.

Without Christ, there is no hope. Any attempts to lead others to Christ must be consistent with our Statement of Faith.

8. Group Structure: Our group operates as a main discussion group and a Leadership Team The Leadership Team moderates and attends to Administrative matters, they also support the main group through prayer, devotionals, Bible studies, and new member help.

The role of our Leadership Team is vital to the overall operation of our group. The team consists of individuals whom take on various roles which aid in determining and implementing group policy, moderating posts and dealing with administrative matters as they arise.

It is our policy to moderate all new members for a time. This means that all posts from new members must be read and approved by a Leadership Team Moderator before being posted to the group.

It is our prayer that each new member of our group will find in Christ Jesus, the only true hope for a divided home.

In His Service,
House of Hope Leadership Team

Lois’ story

Separation and divorce have helped me understand more fully why God’s plan is one man for one woman for life.

My Journey of Change

Update 10/7/2015: Our email support group at Yahoo was privileged to help hundreds, if not thousands, of women and their families for well over a decade. That group is no longer active due to the many newer resources that are available online now.

I never expected my marriage to collapse but, after 33 years, it did.

We were married on March 5, 1967. I was a Christian, but I was not as committed to God’s way as I once had been. Six years into the marriage, I recommitted my life to Christ and my husband made a profession of faith in Christ as well. Through the years, my husband struggled with following God’s way, just as I had not always followed.

After my re-commitment to Christ, God began teaching me how to be the wife he wanted me to be. I often drifted from God’s plan, but God always brought me back to this one question: What is God calling me to be and do in my present situation? At first, I thought God wanted me to submit to his changes to improve my marriage. But, while God holds marriage sacred, God’s concern is always for the people in the marriage. God didn’t create the husband and wife for marriage, he instituted marriage to join the husband and wife he created. God is committed to helping people. He is committed to helping me become the woman he created me to be.

Lacking Perseverance and Consistency

I wish I could tell you that my submission to God paid off, and that my marriage blossomed into everything God meant it to be. But it didn’t. We both failed in many ways. My greatest failure was lack of perseverance and consistency while there was still time.

I tried to find ways to show my husband that he was the most important person in my life, but it just didn’t work. Well, actually, the problem is not that it didn’t work. The problem is that I became discouraged too easily. I’d do the things God convicted me to do for a few weeks, then I’d become discouraged when my husband didn’t react to things as I though he should. It was hard to consistently do the right things with the right attitude, and sometimes I failed or even gave up for a time. I’m sure my husband could tell when I tried to hide my wrong attitudes behind right actions.

It’s difficult to admit that, even though it’s been over nine years since our marriage fell apart. The only reason I’m sharing this is that I don’t want you to make the same mistake. God has forgiven me, and he will use even these circumstances in my life for his glory. But that doesn’t put my marriage back together.

Our Separation

In 1999 there were new developments in my marriage that made our remaining together in any type of mutual relationship almost impossible. My husband moved out in November of 1999. I experienced all the emotions of shock, resentment, anger, forgiveness, numbness, intense emotional pain, inability to think, sorrow for him, fear for me, loneliness, and anxiety of indecision.

But I also experienced the undergirding stability of peace, knowing that God would see me through even this. On Christmas Eve, I was able to write the following to a friend:

I have found that our God is able to see us through the most traumatic experiences in life, and not only see us through but give us hope and joy and peace in all the pain and hurt we experience. Though this Christmas will be difficult because of the loss, yet it will in many ways be more meaningful to me than any previous Christmas because of having had God so near me through the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had.

It was devastating to have my marriage torn from me. But from the beginning God gave me assurance. That assurance was not that my marriage would be reunited. What God showed me was that he would meet my need and use this terrible situation for good as I looked to him. That I could trust him to deal with my husband in response to my prayers. That I could trust him to work in my own heart as I looked to him. That I could love my husband and do all I could to help them find his way. But that even if my marriage was never put back together, I could still trust whatever God brought forth in my life. That God would still bless my home because of my faith and trust in him.

The Birth of ‘Hope in a House Divided’

My friends were all married. They cared, but they couldn’t understand the pain I felt. My grown children understood to a degree, but they suffered a different type of pain than mine. It was a lonely journey that no one but God could comprehend. I found almost no resources on the internet to help. In January of the year 2000, Hope in a House Divided was born out of that need. God planted a tiny dream in my heart to make a place where hurting women who experience such loss, or live in homes tottering on the brink of disaster, can find help and hope. God has multiplied this dream beyond anything I could have imagined, reaching countless women and families for almost a decade through our Hope in a House Divided website and our email support group.

Legal Separation: Bed and Board Divorce

In December of 1999, seeing that my marriage had crumbled and I could not piece it back together, I filed for a legal separation to prevent financial destitution. Even then, I was willing to face destitution if I could have redeemed my marriage, but I could not. Our separation, also known as a “bed and board divorce,” was granted in March of the year 2000. It was the same as a regular divorce in that we were legally single, not living together, and not sharing a home or any property together. The difference is that neither of us could remarry.

Is Divorce Stronger Than Marriage?

My husband filed for and was granted a full divorce on August 5, 2009.  I won’t debate with those who say this does or does not grant me the right to remarry by Biblical standards, because that is not a an issue for me.  Though it’s been almost ten years since we were separated, I understand more fully now than ever why God’s plan is one man for one woman for life.  I feel a stronger commitment than ever to the vow I made when I accepted this man for better or for worse till death do us part, and divorce certainly qualifies for “worse.”  Death has not parted us.  As long as he is alive, I cannot imagine any other man fulfilling the role of husband that he filled for me so long.  Marriage is a commitment that no divorce decree can break.  Legally I am divorced, but spiritually I am committed to being true to the sanctity of God’s creation of marriage.

How does this commitment play out in light of our divorce? We’ve maintained a friendship through all these years we’ve been apart. Divorce has not changed that. I am committed to honor his legal right to remarry, to continue to pray for him and be a friend to him, and to keep his best interest at heart. I cannot say that this is God’s plan for every divorced woman, for I do not know how God deals with others on this matter. Others’ circumstances may be different. I only know that this is how God is leading me at this time. I am content to leave the answers with God.

Tools to Help

I first realized the strength and value of perseverance as I watched some of the women in our email support group relate to their husbands with consistency of care. But I didn’t really see how short I came of what God wanted me to be until I read Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge last September. Whatever the state of your marriage, if you husband is living in your home, I encourage you to click this link and print the challenge, then commit to do it daily.

I watched the movie Fireproof (Click to watch the trailer) with my nine-year-old grandson a few weeks ago. Tears came to my eyes as I realized how I might have thwarted the situation that broke my marriage if I had been more consistent in my efforts to make my marriage work before it reached its fateful collapse.

I purchased The Love Dare (the “Fireproof” companion book) a few months ago. I don’t have the opportunity to physically do these things. But I can pray. I am praying God will accomplish his desires for me, and that God will also accomplish what he desires for my husband. I’ve also asked my husband to forgive me for my inconsistencies, and he has done that. We’ve remained friends through the years. But there are complicated situations and our paths have twisted during the past nine years.

Final Recommendations and Encouragement

Ripping apart a marriage leaves a wound that never completely heals. In the last years my husband and I lived together, I read many books on how to have a healthy marriage. But a lot more help is available now. Take advantage of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge, the movie Fireproof, and The Love Dare book. Do all you can to make it work, so you don’t have to look back and wish you’d tried just a little harder.

One caution though: If you are living in an abusive situation, this may not apply to you at this time. If you need help in an abusive situation, please click National Domestic Violence Hotline. Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You never get over the loss of a marriage but, if you are in the position that I’m in, there is still forgiveness and hope. God understands that our humanity is not perfect, and we can learn and grow from our mistakes. We can still find purpose as we ask ourselves, “What is God calling me to be and do in my present situation?”

God bless you as you seek his will for your marriage and your life.

Lois
[Update: My husband was granted a divorce in August of 2009, and has since remarried. I wish the best for them. We continue to be friends. My prayer is that God will work in his life and marriage, as well as in my life, to help us all be what he desires us to be during this new phase of our lives.]