Category Archives: Hope for Women

Misc. Bible studies that provide hope for women’s needs

Unwavering faith that brings results

Experience faith, live in faith, and rejoice in the results of faith. God is the source and giver of faith that permeates our lives and brings results that only God can do.

We cannot create faith. Through God, we can experience it.

‘Believe and receive’ is not ‘name it and claim it.’

“Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.

For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop” {Mark 11:23-25, Amplified Bible).

Just believe and you have it? Name it and claim it? No, that is not what this Scripture teaches. The type of faith Christ is talking about was taught in the Old Testament also, long before Christ taught it in the New Testament. Of course Christ, through the Holy Spirit who inspired the Old as well as the New Testaments, is the Author of the the following passage from Proverbs as also.

“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track” (Proverbs 3:5-6, The MSG).

From Proverbs 3, we get a hint of the source of this faith: God is the author. We cannot muster it up. We cannot earn it. It is a gift from God as we “listen for God’s voice in everything…everywhere.” We cannot create faith. We can only experience it.

Struggling with doubt

So how can I get God to give me this faith that receives answers to its need? One man did it very simply. He just asked for it with a yearning heart, and set the example for us all:

“And it has often thrown him both into fire and into water, intending to kill him. But if You can do anything, do have pity on us and help us.

And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes!

At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith!” (Mark 9:22-24).

We simply ask God with an “eager, piercing” even an “inarticulate” cry. In other words, we ask him sincerely. We recognize our own inability to believe with this kind of faith (“help my weakness of faith”). We may not even be able to express our need (inarticulate), but God knows our heart.

God responds to the truth in our hearts, not to the words we on our lips. We ask God to give us this faith constantly, as the father in the above Scripture did, and to teach us to live in a way to receive it constantly.

Mark 11:23-25 (first passage in this study) also teaches that we cannot believe with sincere faith if we harbor un-forgiveness. “Let it go” the Bible teaches. When we “leave it, let it go” Christ promises that he will “forgive you your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop.” So the basis of this type of faith is being right with our fellow-man, and right with God — the first two Commandments found in Exodus 20, to love God supremely and to love others as ourselves. Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40).

How can we find faith like this?

This leads us straight to the Source, the Author, the Giver of faith that takes over our lives and brings the results that only God can do: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)

Yes, faith comes by reading God’s Word. Do you read the Bible, God’s Word, daily? We must live according to God’s principles to experience this unwavering faith. Yet, how can we know God’s principles if we are not reading his Word?

Living by faith

Paul said to the Colossian Christians: “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7 Amplified Bible).

We cannot have this unwavering faith unless we first have an unwavering life. We cannot believe and receive unless we first commit all situations of our life to the Lord Jesus Christ. So now it is time to go forth and experience faith, live in faith, and rejoice in faith. We can trust God, not because we muster up the faith to believe, but because our God has proven himself faithful!

Live in God’s Word today,
Lois

A woman’s priorities: Three most important things

3 most important things: Obedience to and spending time with God is our #1 priority. But there is no higher priority under God than being a wife. There is no higher calling than motherhood.

Time alone with God will change your life like no other.

Three most important priorities in your life

Do you ever get frustrated with all the demands placed upon you? Our world demands more and more all the time. We need to take time to determine what is really important.

I was asked an interesting question in a job interview once: “If you had to nail it down, what would you consider the three most important things in your life?” My perspective employer told me to think about it before answering, because he felt it was one of the most important questions in the interview. How would you respond to that question?

I told him I would not need to think about the first two. I explained that God must be first in everything, and that my family is the most important part of my life after God. I thought a moment about the third response. Several things vied for that position, but I decided that the thing that means most to me after God and family is my church. That was in 1990 and, as I update this in 2009, my priorities remain the same. These three things top the list for me.

However, for this study, I am going to list the priorities in our immediate family in the proper order. The top three things, then, will look like this:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Children

Family (husband and children) and a woman’s priorities

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man

–Genesis 2:20-22

Our primary calling under God is to be a helper to our husbands. That is why we were created. “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you'” (Genesis 3:16).

God placed a natural desire in us to make our husbands our priority. The friction of marriage tends to wear away at that desire. Then we bring that little baby home from the hospital — helpless and demanding — and we forget the first priority God gave us in our homes.

Motherhood is a high calling. But before motherhood we were given to our husbands as a helper. Many husbands are jealous of a wife’s time with the children. This is to our shame. Our husbands deserve better than second rate to the children. When we put them second we are not fulfilling the role God has given us as wives.

There is no higher calling than motherhood. But there is no higher priority under God than being a wife. They go hand in hand. Unless we get the relationships in our families right we cant be what God intended us to be. Caring for our children is part of meeting our husband’s needs. Our husbands want us to do that. They just don’t want to be sacrificed in the process. We don’t have to neglect our children to put our husbands first.

The Bible has much to say about our role as wives, as well as about parents — both husband and wife together. There are examples of Godly mothers in the Bible. But few verses are directed specifically toward a mother’s role in raising her children. This is because it is natural for us to mother.

“To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16) Many of us remember the anguish of childbirth. But when that baby was placed in our arms, the anguish was forgotten. We began to mother!

It is natural for us to desire our husbands too. But the part about allowing our husbands to rule is not so natural for most of us. This requires steadfast devotion to and faith in God. So God is careful to emphasize our role as wives more than mothers.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4) Which is listed first in God’s command of who we are to love? Husbands or children? God’s order is husbands first, children second. If we follow God’s order our children will be cared for in the best possible way. God’s way is always right.

I am not advocating a mother subject herself or her children to abuse. I am suggesting we do not excuse ourselves for our rebellion against God’s plan for families because of our own selfishness. Much material on this website discusses our role as wives and mothers. Now we turn to our #1 priority.

God and a woman’s priorities

“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). It is easy to say God is #1. But is he really #1 in your life?

“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

What did Jesus say we will do if we love him? (Obey his teachings). Where do we find his teachings? (In the Bible). Do you love God enough to set aside a time each day to learn about his teachings? Do you have time for God? Do you plan ahead for this time of meeting with him in His word? Do you reserve a few minutes of your 24 hrs for him alone, or is your prayer life always “on the go?”

There is nothing wrong with “on the go” prayers. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). The Bible says, “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

But how can we say he is a priority if we are not willing to set aside a few minutes of each day to devote only to him? You may say, “I tried that. Didn’t work.” Here is what God says:

“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway” (Proverbs 8:34)

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there” (Isaiah 28:10)

The King James translation of Isaiah 28:10 says it this way: 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 says it WILL work if you are faithful to do it and don’t give up. Some days you will feel God so near you can almost touch him. Other times you will read the Bible for days or even weeks and nothing seems to happen. But you are being fed.

Think of a special meal you enjoyed recently, something out of the ordinary. Yet, most of the time you probably eat the same type of food day after day. Either way, you are being nurtured. If you are faithful during the times you feel you aren’t getting anything out of it, God will be faithful to develop a foundation in your life that will be strong and secure. He will do it in tiny measures sometimes — barely noticeable — precept upon precept. But one day you will read a passage you’ve read many times. In an instant God will reveal a special truth to you, something you missed before — a special meal. The Bible will begin to come alive for you!

God’s word fits together wonderfully but it takes faithfulness to comprehend its wonders. I’ve talked with many defeated Christians. They come back over and over with the same needs. Yet I have watched God dramatically change the lives of those who are willing to make time alone with God the #1 priority in their lives.

This one thing – time alone with God – will change your life like no other!

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. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Loving our neighbor as ourselves takes care of everything else

  • home
  • friends
  • relationships at church
  • work
  • social life
  • mistreatment from others

But before we can get the part about our neighbor right we must get the part about making God #1 right. There is an old hymn that says:

I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, my Lord.
I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee my God;
I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou doest know;
But how much I love Thee my actions will show.

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him…'” (John 14:23)

Do you love God enough to make time alone with him your #1 priority? Or do you keep putting him off?

  • When I get better organized…
  • When I get the kids in school…
  • When I get a better job with different hours…
  • When I have more time I will spend time with him.

That is Satan’s lie. It will never happen unless you chose to make it happen, unless you choose now — NOW — to make time for God! Do you have to think about whether you will comb your hair each day? Do you ever consider not combing it?

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7)

Is the God who knows the number of your hairs, who cares for the sparrows and says you are much more important… Is he less important than brushing your hair? Our time with God should be just that automatic like brushing our hair. It shouldn’t be up for question as to whether we will do it. He always waits for us. We can come to him any time.

Satan challenges us in this area like no other. Satan knows if he can defeat our time alone with God he can defeat us in every other area. Will you let Satan continue to defeat you?

What time would be best for you to set aside for God? Think of a time right now that would be best to set aside for God. If you don’t plan ahead you will never do it. Commit your heart right now to keeping this appointment with God each day this week. Don’t let Satan steal your time with the most important priority in your life.

What to do during your time alone with god

The concordance in the back of your Bible is wonderful. Use it to find passages relating to Bible people.

  • What made them great?
  • What made them fall short?
  • Notice how God worked in their lives.
  • How did they respond?
  • Learn from their examples.

Are you fearful? Look up “fear and “afraid” in the concordance.

Are you angry? Look up “anger.”

Search for God’s promises that meet your need. Are there conditions to the promises? Ask God to help you meet them.

When you come to the “begets and begots” and other things that seem boring skip them. God has them there for a reason and some day you will go back and uncover the wonderful truths in them. But for now don’t concentrate on the things you don’t understand. Just apply the things you do understand. None of us understands it all. The Bible has some very simple truths in it and some very profound. The Holy Spirit will teach us as we read it. The more we study, the more we will understand.

Spend time talking with God. You can be honest with him. If you don’t feel like praying, tell him. Like this: “God, I don’t feel like praying today. I’d rather be reading a magazine. But you are here, and I want to learn. I am struggling. Help me with this.”

He will hear that prayer…and he will open his word to you. Tell him all your heart things. He already knows. He just wants you to invite him to help. He doesn’t look at our failures to see where he can condemn us. He looks at them to see how he can help.

Your homework for the next week is this:

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is divided into 22 short sections. Read 3 sections each day during the time you have set apart for God. One day you will need to read 4 sections.

Meditate on what you read. Ask God to give you 1 verse each day that speaks to your need. Talk to God during this time just as you would talk to a friend. You may want to write your prayers.

Psalm 119 is a passage on the helpfulness of God’s word. It is written in the form of a prayer. By reading it you will be performing both Bible study and prayer.

God waits for you every day. He will be waiting for you at the time you have selected. Your appointment with Him is the only place you will find what you are missing in your life.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27) If you want that peace you have to spend time with Him.

When I was in high school, I used to dig promises out of God’s word and write them in the flyleaves of my Bible. The flyleaves of my Bible and a New Testament I had then are both covered with penciled promises. I have been a Christian since 1956. God has been faithful to every promise.

Here is my testimony about God’s promises:
“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them” (Psalm 119:140).

But there was a time in my young adult years when I didn’t have time for God. I was a defeated Christian. My world was collapsing around me.

He was waiting for me. I found answers with God. You can too.

For more help in establishing a daily time with God, click here. This will take you to our old website until I get things moved. We are in the process of moving the website to the site you are on now.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Wait in expectation, God’s answer is “Yes!”

God always says, “Yes,” but his “Yes” is more than we can comprehend. We see the moment, but God bids us wait in exptectation of his “Yes” that covers the whole of us.

“in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).

God’s Answer is “Yes”

But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
–2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Jesus is “Yes.” He is not “No.” The confusion comes when we ask with wrong motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

There can be wrong motive even in something so noble as wanting to put a marriage back together. Motives of personal fulfillment, companionship, or security can overshadow the motive of living for Christ in whatever circumstance we are in. Living by God’s principles is not a foolproof insurance policy for marriage. The ultimate goal is not even a wholesome marriage, but rather to be obedient to Christ. When we are obedient to Christ we can find peace no matter what happens.

Your home may be hurting. You may feel God has let you down. Set your heart to being the wife God has called you to be and leave the results with him. Jesus says, “Yes,” but his “Yes” encompasses a lot more than our minds can take in. We see only the moment, but his is an all encompassing, everlasting “Yes.”

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). God has promised to give us what we ask of him in prayer. But God’s “Yes” is always in accordance with what is best for us. You may say, how can this be? In that case it may seem “No” to you.

An illustration I heard as a child has always stuck with me. A little boy had to climb a mountain to get to church each Sunday. It was a very difficult and somewhat dangerous trip. Yet he longed for the fellowship and teaching he found with God’s people and he faithfully made the trip each Sunday.

He learned that God says if you have enough faith you can ask him to remove a mountain and he will do it. In childlike faith he began to pray that the mountain be removed so he could easily attend the church.

A couple weeks later he came across some folks working on a building project at the foot of the mountain just before he would have to climb it to get to his church. He asked what they were building, and they said they were building a mission of the church across the mountain, so folks on this side could easily attend.

God did not remove the mountain. So I ask you, did he say “Yes” to the little boy’s prayer? Of course he did!

God’s “Yes” is not always in accordance with the exact thing we are asking. If we are not careful, we may not see his “Yes” when it comes. Begin to look for God’s “Yes!”

Wait in Expectation

Does God ever say, “Wait.”? How do we know when God says, “Wait.”? God always says “Wait.”

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).

Wait in expectation! Wait a few minutes or wait a few years. Wait on God to work it out in the best way possible. “Wait in expectation.” Two seemingly contradictory words. Yet God says it is the answer for us. Wait.

Wait is a peaceful word. It is not worrisome. It is not fretful. It is simply resting in God’s “Yes.” Expectation is not jumping at every flicker of light. It is calm assurance in God’s “Yes.” Yes, he will come through. His “Yes” will be what is good for you in every way. No where in the Bible will you find where his “Yes” promises to restore broken marriages. But you will find where he says, “My peace I leave with you.”

Are you at peace? His “Yes” is peace and hope and the two wonderful words, “wait” and “expectation,” two words that seem to contradict yet meet together in the calm assurance of resting in God’s promise of “Yes.”

Yes, God cares about your marriage! But he cares more about you. His “Yes” takes in all of you, not just your marriage. Jesus says to you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).

Wait in expectation for his “Yes.” God has given you rest.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

In times like these agape love never fails

A commitment to charity and God’s agape love to reach our mate and marriage. Tearing down walls of protection and becoming vulnerable in service, flexibility, courage, forgiveness.

from 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.” The Greek word “agape” is translated “love.”

In times like these

I’ve heard that after the wedding bells stop ringing, marriage partners begin to reduce each other to fit their own molds. Ah, but that could never happen to us! Or so I said before we got married.

But now I’m beginning to feel uncomfortably reduced! I thought we knew each other well, but sometimes now I feel I hardly know you at all.

It seems you’re trying to squeeze me into your mold, yet at the same time you’ve smashed all the boundaries which held my cast of an ideal mate.

In times like these, my love can no longer afford to be merely an emotion. In times like these, my love must mature into a ministry, because…

Love is selfish when it swoons, “I love you because of who I am when I am with you.” Love is agape when it declares, “I will serve you regardless of who I am when I am with you.”

There will be times when you will sin against me. During these times I promise to follow the example of our Lord in his relationship with Judas Iscariot. Jesus demonstrated the same love toward Judas that he lavished upon the other apostles. During their three years of companionship, Jesus’ treatment of Judas never gave away the fact that Jesus knew Judas was an impostor (John 13:1-34.)

Forgiveness is not passive.
Forgiveness aggressively makes itself vulnerable.
Forgiveness is turning the other cheek. 70 x 70.

There will be times when we are angry with each other. When I am angry, I promise to abide by this counsel:

Scripture says, “When you are angry, do not sin.”—(Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a chance.

Those who have been stealing must never steal again. Instead, they must work. They must do something useful with their own hands. Then they will have something to give to people in need.

Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.

Do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad. He marked you with a seal for the day when God will set you completely free.

Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred. 32 Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.

–Ephesians 4:26-32, New International Readers’ Version (NIRV)

There will be times when I will sin against you. During these times, I promise to say the three hardest words in the English language:

“I am wrong.”

Some of our friends are getting divorced. Others are living together in “emotional divorce.” But our marriage will be different, because…

1. I will honor our wedding vows before God. I promise to abide with you in love until death do us part.

2. I will let nothing you do destroy me, for I will trust in the Lord at all times.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
–Psalm 62:8

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
–Romans 8:28-29

3. No matter what you do, I will not protect myself by building a wall between us; for how can I love you through a wall?

4. No, I will not do those things. You see, my love for you is aggressive enough to serve, if need be. It is flexible enough to adjust, if need be. It is brave enough to hurt, if need be. Whatever you do, my love will forgive, because God’s love has been born in me.

Many marriages have failed, but ours will not fail; because I will saturate our marriage with God’s love — agape love — and…

“Agape never fails.”

Definition of “agape”

The Greek word translated “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 and many other passages of Scripture is “agape.” Theologians tell us the Bible speaks of three types of love. “Eros” is sexual, “phileo” is based on friendship, and “agape is the love God has for us and wants to develop in us toward others. Many have tried to define “agape,” but I believe the greatest definition of “agape” is 1 Corinthians 13.

It’s not a failure till it’s finished.

Update April 16, 2009: I wrote this item several years before my husband and I were separated in 1999. Some would say my marriage failed, but I say it is not a failure till it is finished. It is not finished until we kneel before God’s throne. If I never see the answer here, I fully expect that God will show me that agape didn’t fail when he brings me to his throne room. Don’t ask me how that can be — I do not know. Just meet me at the throne, for the answer is in God’s hand.

The truth is that both of us failed our marriage and each other in many ways. There are no perfect marriages. I was not always as consistent with agape as I longed to be. Had I been, would it have made a difference? Only God knows the answer to that question. But I can tell you that God’s Word says “Agape never fails.” My experience does not change God’s promise.

We all fall short of what God calls us to be at times. My goal is to be what he calls me to be today. My part is to be faithful to the wedding vows that I made to my husband in the presence of my God. It is to be kind to my husband and seek his best interest, whatever the state of our marriage, and to pray for him.

God has never promised me he would restore my marriage. It would take a tremendous miracle to restore our union, but I have no doubt that God is capable of doing that if he so chooses. So I cannot give up on the restoration of my marriage as long as my husband is not married to another.

What God has told me is that the agape we put into our marriage will not fail. It will accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. How do I know? “Agape never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

In God’s agape,
Lois

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Don’t take your home to Tarshish

Our choice: run to Tarshish, taking our homes into the storm, by refusing to follow God’s plan for wives in the home; or go to the Nineveh of submission in obedience to God.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

Running in the wrong direction

Do you ever turn and run the opposite direction from which God tells you to go? Years ago the prophet Jonah ran from God’s direction too:

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
–Jonah 1:1-3

Selfish motives

God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh. Why did he not want to go there? Jonah answers this question in chapter 4:

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:1-2)

Jonah didn’t want to go because he knew that the people of Nineveh didn’t deserve God to forgive them. He knew if he preached to them they would repent and be forgiven.

This seems to be the ultimate of selfish excuses. Yet every time we run from God, we are doing it with selfish motives. Like Jonah, many times we are standing in the way of others coming to know Christ, and we may not even realize it.

Right circumstances

When Jonah chose to go to Tarshish, he chose to go the exact opposite direction from the way God told him to go. Tarshish was south. If you look on a map, south is always down. When we run away from God, our life always heads into a downward spiral. Sometimes we kid ourselves into thinking God approves our misbehavior. After all circumstances are right for it.

What circumstances were right in Jonah’s life to make it seem okay to go to Tarshish?

  1. Jonah was able to find a boat to Tarshish.
  2. The boat had room for him.
  3. He had money for the fare.
  4. There was a wind going toward Tarshish so the boat would sail.

Bringing it home

What about in your home? It is easy to decide our husbands dont deserve our kindness and helpfulness, just as Jonah felt about the people of Nineveh. We often find circumstances that seem to invite us to go the opposite direction. We want to run from that which God has called us to be in our homes. We want to follow our own plans. God permits it, and the circumstances seem equitable to it.

Running in their own power

The sailors ran from God

When Jonah ran from God, he set the stage for others to run too. The sailors had no doubt heard about the powerful God of the Hebrew people. They began to question Jonah during the storm:

[Jonah] answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so) Jonah 1:9-10.

The sailors feared the God of Jonah. Yet, rather than call on Jonah’s God themselves, they looked to other things for help. According to the first chapter of Jonah, what are some things the sailors looked to for help before finally turning to God and following his directions?

  1. They looked to other gods, gods who could never help, gods with a little “g,” not the only true God who could help them.
    • All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god…
      –Jonah 1:5a
  2. They tried to fix the problem themselves by throwing cargo overboard.
    • And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
      –Jonah 1:5b
  3. They asked someone else to pray for them before they prayed for themselves.
    • The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish”
      –Jonah 1:6
  4. They tried consulting mysticism by casting lots.
    • Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
      –Jonah 1:7
  5. They blamed someone else. So often we are tempted to blame our husbands for the shape of our homes.
    • So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
      –Jonah 1:8
  6. They asked advice from someone else before they consulted God.
    • The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
      –Jonah 1:8
  7. God showed them his solution through the other person. They refused to follow.
    • “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
      –Jonah 1:12-13
  8. They tried to run away from the problem: Instead, the men did their best to row back to land… (Jonah 1:13).

How would you feel if God said, “Throw this man overboard, that is my solution!” They must have been appalled. How many times has God shown us something we are to do in relation to our husbands and we have said, “Oh, no God, anything but that!” We want to be independent. God says we are to be dependent on him.

The sailors turned to God

“Then they cried to the LORD, ‘O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.’ Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:14-16)

When they got right with God the storm ended. They did this by:

  1. Calling out to God.
  2. Recognizing Gods sovereignty.
  3. Obeying Gods instructions.
  4. Fearing God.
  5. Offering a sacrifice to God.
  6. Making vows to God.

Bringing it home

Some of their own solutions, for example throwing the cargo overboard, were sensible. But God’s only acceptable solution was repentance and trust in him. We have our own ideas of how things are to be done in our homes. As wives God tells us to be submissive to our husbands.

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).

Anything short of that is running away, running to Tarshish, and God will certainly deal with it. This is not to say we should allow physical abuse and God’s Word does have some things to say about desertion and fornication. But most of the time we break Gods rule for us as wives in the home because we just flat don’t like it.

Running or revealing?

“He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land'” (Jonah 1:9).

Jonah was a Hebrew. By saying “I am a Hebrew,” he was saying “I am one of those through whom God reveals himself to the world.” Yet, by his rebellion against God’s direction, Jonah ran from his responsibility to allow God to reveal himself to the world through him.

Bringing it home

According to 1 Peter 3:1, if our husband is an unbeliever, we, as a Christian wife, are one of those through whom God reveals himself to our husbands.

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).

Are you running, or revealing?

Running from accountability

Because Jonah refused to follow Gods will for him, those he was to be an example to suffered:

  1. They experienced great fear (Jonah 1:5,10 below).
  2. They had to throw some of their possessions overboard.
    • All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep… This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done? (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so)” (Jonah 1:5,10).
  3. They had to live with throwing a man overboard.
    • Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm (verses 14-15).

    How would you like to have to live with that?

  4. The worst thing of all that people had to suffer because of Jonah’s rebellion was this: The people of Nineveh had to continue in darkness until Jonah repented.

Bringing it home

If we refuse to follow God’s plan for us in our homes, our husbands, our children, all in our household will suffer. We are accountable to God.

Running to God

The storm and the fish

God sent the storm, and God sent the fish.

  • God sent a great wind. “Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jonah 1:4)
  • God also sent a great fish. “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).

God will chastise his children greatly, and God in his grace will also provide great protection for them even in the midst of the chastisement. The fish is a perfect example. It was chastisement. It also protected Jonah from being drowned in the ocean.

The forfeiture of rebellion

You can read the story of Jonah’s repentance from the belly of the whale in Jonah 2:1-10. Jonah summed his experience up with these words: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). That is an awesome statement.

How much we forfeit when we cling to our idols, our “rights” in our home. When we rebel against God’s plan for us in 1 Peter 3:1, we forfeit the grace that could be ours.

We sometimes do this just by refusing to study the word that we might know God’s will for us. We refuse to study and find out what his will is, then when we know his will we run from it, because we think it is too much to ask. We think our way is so much better. This is fleeing to Tarshish.

Those to whom Jonah should have been setting an example, the very ones who God had called him to minister to (for us as wives/mothers that is our husbands/children) — those very ones are the ones who saw Jonah’s disobedience and had to deal with it. They are the ones who were hurt by Jonah’s disobedience. When Jonah repented and got right, people repented and placed their faith in God.

Tarshish or Nineveh?”

Jonah repented from the whale’s belly and God again called him to go to Nineveh. Jonah obeyed God and “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned’ (Jonah 3:4).”

The people of Nineveh believed God, and the king issued a proclamation:

“Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
–Jonah 3:8-10

Nineveh repented and turned to God, all because Jonah said, “I was wrong. I have rebelled against God.” Jonah repented, and this opened the door for the lost to repent.

Bringing it home

The choice is ours: Either we run to Tarshish, and take our homes into the storm with us by refusing to follow God’s plan for wives in the home; or we go to the Nineveh of submission in obedience to God:

“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).

Prayer

Lord, we ask that you give us hearts to follow you. Whatever choices you are calling us to make, help us keep our eyes from Tarshish. Help us say “Yes,” and go to Nineveh, even if it seems so hard. For we know your promise, and we thank you for this: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

Thank you for that wonderful grace Lord. We love you and trust you, and to be in your plan for us is far more desirable than any Tarshish that may seem so convenient. Help us not choose convenience but rather obedience Lord. Thank you for your faithfulness when we do. Amen.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Diary of a selfish Christian

Dealing with marriage and social problems, measuring our lives by verses of the great love chapter of the Bible, changing selfishness to God’s love, challenge to serve freely.

Studies from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Lord, recreate me in your love.

It’s just not fair: one brown sock peeking out from under the recliner (and who knows where the other one is?); a brown and beige striped sport shirt crumpled under the stereo; and, slumped over the corner of the dresser, a pair of brown slacks spilling out a ring of keys and thirty-two cents.

“Love is patient…”

Here comes Diane again. Since she and her family moved next door last month, she has appeared at my door at least three times a week to “borrow a cup of sugar,” or “see if you have a recipe for banana pudding.” Once inside she’ll follow me into the kitchen and ramble for two hours about her sister’s wedding, or her gall-bladder surgery (I’ve heard that four times already), or what a great pitcher little Joey is. Maybe I’ll tell her I don’t have any — no sugar, no recipes, no time.

“Love is kind…”

I wish she’d move again. Better still, I wish we could move to Lakeview Estates, like Sidney and Marie. What a house they’ve got. Split level with a sunken bathtub and private boat dock! And here I sit in this grey brick cracker box across from the convenience store.

“Love does not envy…”

Actually, I just don’t have time to visit with Diane. I need to prepare for tonight’s session of the ladies’ Bible class I’m leading. Let’s see…what is the topic? Oh, yes, the Golden Rule, I think. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also unto them likewise” (Luke 6:31). That will be easy. I’ve done that since childhood. I’ll tell them how just last week I gave ten dollars to the collection for underprivileged children. Some people never stop and think about others’ needs.

“Love…does not boast, it is not proud…”

Like Tom for instance. You’d think a twenty-eight-year old man could pick up after himself. I got even last night though. Tom’s new friend commented that he likes his home to look lived in. “That’s one thing you can say for Tom,” I quipped. “When he comes home, he immediately begins to add that lived-in touch. He doesn’t even know we own a hamper!” Tom looked embarrassed, but it served him right.

“Love…does not dishonor others…”

He never thinks about me. When he decides to go somewhere, he just goes. And I’m stuck here to referee three kids. But he is always here at time to eat. Why doesn’t he ever consider my happiness?

“Love…is not self-seeking…”

Maybe I’ll just tell him what I think of his behavior.

“Love…is not easily angered…”

I think he is selfish, inconsiderate, and immature!

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs….”

I am a better person than he is. At least I’m not selfish!

Love…does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…”

He will never change. And I’m tired of putting up with his selfishness!

“Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…”

I think I’ll just give up.

“Love never fails…”

Never?

God, my love fails. My love demands a return on its investment. My love is conditional.

O Lord, recreate me in your love.

All circumstances and names in this diary are fictional.
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

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