Tag Archives: philippians

09. If things still go wrong: You go right for you are blessed!

When things go wrong, you go right! Accept the “gift” of adversity through which God grows his children. Always remember “You are blessed!”

Daughters of Sarah Bible Study session 9 (1 Peter 3:13-5:11).

We Are Blessed

Some of us have done our best to be submissive, Godly wives, yet we find ourselves groping in the rubble of a broken home. We trusted in God. What went wrong? God has a precious and tender answer for us:

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened” (1 Peter 3:13-14).

Can it be that even in what seems so wrong, “You are blessed”? Oh, yes! When a woman faithfully follows the Lord as best she can in a troubled marriage, God walks daily with her. She is called to a great faith. As she trusts God day by day, she learns that he is faithful to that trust.

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:6).

What greater opportunity to grow in faith than when the very foundation we’ve built our marriage on begins to crumble. What a comfort to know that even in this God watches over our way! When a woman is faithful to the Lord, God will multiply that faithfulness back to her many times over. She will begin to experience continual joy and peace in the midst of the pain.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

“You are blessed!” Peace and joy in the midst of suffering and a broken heart — can there be any greater blessing than this? As we are faithful in a troubled and sometimes broken marriage, we learn of God’s faithfulness as we could no other way.

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Do not live for the things you desire (a beautiful marriage relationship.) Rather, live to fulfill the will of God for your life. God’s desire is that your marriage be made whole. But his greater desire is that you experience continual trust in and fellowship with him. Live for that!

Rather than envy those who have “solid Christian marriages,” begin to thank God for the blessings he has given you even in the painful times of your marriage. Remember, those “solid Christian marriages” struggle also. Some are much more shaky than they appear from the outside. Others are strong, but none is perfect. In every marriage you so envy, the wife is frustrated with her husband from time to time. He is sometimes annoyed with her. So do not envy. Rather be thankful for God’s blessing in the marriage where you are. You are blessed!

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

The Bible speaks of gifts of the spirit. But in the context of 1 Peter 4, could it be that the gift here is the gift of adversity? What greater gift can the Lord give than to make life hard so we learn to trust him? As songwriter Andrae Crouch says in “Through it All”: “For if I had never had a problem, I would never know that God could solve them, and I would never know what faith in his word could do.”

How are we to use these gifts of suffering? By “faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” God will give you grace to live for him as you trust him through the heartbreak of a wayward child. God will give you grace to live for him as you hold his hand through the storm of a difficult marriage. God will give you grace to continue on for him if you experience the pain of the marriage you’ve worked for crumbling under your feet.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

This verse was written to a people who were suffering persecution for their faith. Ours is a different situation, but in a sense it is the same. Because of our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and to our husbands, we’ve tried to live for Christ in our marriages. We’ve not been perfect, but we’ve done our best. Many have followed Christ even as their husband followed the world. Some have been the only Christian in their homes.

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19).

What do you do when things go wrong? When things go wrong, you go right! Be humble toward your mate, and be willing to admit your own weaknesses in the marriage. Give your husband to the Lord, and continue to trust God moment by moment.

…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
–1 Peter 5:5-7, 10

Always remember, You are blessed!

Prayer

Lord, thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you that we have a hope and a purpose, and that you are not finished with us yet. Thank you that even in our own failures in our marriages, you receive us, forgive us, and help us to stand in your grace.

Please be with our husbands, and help them find your hand, Lord. Please help them to know your comfort. If it be possible, unite our husband’s hand, and ours, back together with yours. We know you have the power to do all things, so we give our husbands to you, trusting you to work in their hearts and ours to bring about your will.

Thank you, Lord, that because of you, we are blessed. Please help our husbands to know your blessing, too. Amen.

Table of Contents for Daughters of Sarah

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

08. Winning behavior: Repay evil with blessing

Our way is not words, but behavior, not outward apparel, but inner beauty. Repay evil with blessing. Jesus is our way. We are followers, pure, modest, beautiful, human, and faithful.

Daughters of Sarah Bible Study session 8 (1 Peter 3:1-12).

We Are Followers

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… (3:1)

In the same way as what? Backing up into verses 20-25 of chapter 2, we find the context is speaking of Jesus and his submission to the unfairness he suffered in order to purchase our redemption.

“In the same way…” Jesus is our way. He has set us an example. Now he tells us that his way is not words, but behavior. Jesus could have told us over and over from heaven, “I love you.” But his words would have rang empty, and we would have still been forever separated, were it not for his behavior:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death —
even death on a cross!

–Philippians 2:5-8

We Are Pure

The Bible says our husbands may be won without words “when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (3:2). Our words will ring empty, too, without proper behavior. Our behavior is to be manifested by the purity and reverence of our lives.

God explains further that outward behavior begins with inner change.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (3:3-4).

We Are Modest

The way we behave on the outside will reflect what we are on the inside. What we put on the outside or leave off of the outside will reflect our inner purity as well. We have an important role here.

The Christian community will throw stones at a man who is in an adulterous relationship. Yet it is acceptable for Christian women to adorn themselves, even at church, with as little as they can get by with, and then a little less. Somehow we’ve got our values all messed up.

Temptation is everywhere for men. A Christian woman can walk by wearing a skimpy garment. She finds pleasure in the attention she gets for the moment, and just as quickly, her mind is on other things. But she leaves behind her a man struggling to capture the emotions she has unraveled within him. He may have committed his heart to sexual purity before God. Now he feels guilty for the lust he finds in his mind, even though he has done his best to avoid temptation. Who will God hold accountable for this evil? (Update 4-5-2006: For an eye-opening look at this subject from a young Christian man’s viewpoint, see On Modest Dress.)

We have a major responsibility, ladies, to dress in such a way as to help men live above reproach in a sin-sick world. Woe to us if we adorn ourselves in such a manner to pull them down to the level we have lowered ourselves to when we dress immodestly.

We Are Beautiful

When we get our attitudes in order, our actions will follow.

We’ve been taught since we were tiny that beauty is what is on the inside, not the outside, but we’ve never believed it. We take time to get our makeup just right, coax a lock of hair into the right place, and make the necessary adjustments in front of a full length mirror to be sure we’ve put together a lovely package. But that same morning, we brush by our Bible on our way out the door and think to ourselves, “I really should take time to read that…maybe tomorrow.”

God says this is wrong: “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear” (v. 4-6).

We Are Human

Sarah was human just like us, ladies. She laughed in disbelief when God said she would have a child in her old age. Then she lied to cover up her lack of faith:

Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, `Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

–Genesis 18:10-15

Sarah was not perfect, yet God calls her a holy woman of the past and says she had unfading beauty because she subjected herself to her husband, did what was right, and did not give way to fear. God puts a high priority on this.

We Are Faithful

How do we give way to fear? We fear that when we obey our husbands in what seems to be poor judgment on his part we will bring disaster on ourselves and our children. We don’t have to fear being obedient. Obedience to God via our husbands is right. God will honor our obedience and take care of us.

“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” (v. 7).

“Ah… finally we are getting to the heart of the matter. I would if he would!” We sound like Spiritual two-year-olds. How God must long for us to grow up and realize that our husband’s failure does not free us.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (v. 8).

We are commanded to live in harmony. Our part is submission. We are commanded to love as brothers. Is it possible to love our husband with brotherly love as well as romantic love? It is not only possible, it is necessary. What is brotherly love? Compassion and humility are good descriptions.

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (v. 9).

Do you want to get even with your husband? How can we repay evil with blessing? What is promised if we repay with blessing?

“For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it…'” (v. 10-11).

If we keep our tongue from evil but harden it in our heart, are we okay then? No, what is in our heart will eventually spill over. We can only keep the lid on so long.

“…Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Submission starts in the heart.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (v. 12).

Do you want God’s eyes and ears attentive to you or against you? The greatest blessing on earth is to have the God of the universe attentive to our prayers. He asks so little in return. He only asks that we trust him, trust him enough to be submissive to his leadership through our husbands. God calls us to submission to teach us faith so he can bless us.

You can trust God. He gave his Son for you.

Prayer

Lord, this is more than we can do. We’ve already failed. Thank you that you understand our humanity. Forgive us, and lead us onward from here. We follow. Amen.

Questions for Discussion

Is it possible for us to live as Jesus did?
How does our humanity fit into all of this?
How do the clothes we wear reflect the level of purity and reverence in our hearts?
What is the relationship between attitudes and actions?
What is the relationship between fear and faith?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

07. Discipline and affirmation: Confident of better things

As we balance discipline with affirmation, we give our children worthy expectations to live up to. Expect the best, provide loving discipline and support in the worst.

We are confident of better things in your case (Hebrews 6:9).

Paul, the Master ‘Parent’

This session is mostly Scripture, as an example of the Apostle Paul’s “parenting” method. Meditate on the verses below, taken from Paul’s’ Epistles. Observe as this master “parent” shows us how to deal with our children. Get your Bible and read the context or entire book of some of these epistles. Skim through some of Paul’s other epistles in addition to those quoted below. Most of the epistles are very short, and almost all of them employ the principles we’ve been discussing here.

From Paul’s Letter to the Church at Thessalonica

But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

–1 Thessalonians 2:7-12

From Paul’s Letter to the Church at Philippi

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus….

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
–Philippians 1:3-6,27; 4:1-2

From Paul’s First Letter to the Church at Corinth

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge– because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.

–1 Corinthians 1:4-11; 5:1; 11:1-2,17-18

From Paul’s Second Letter to the Church at Corinth

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent–not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.

Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority–the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

–2 Corinthians 2:1-8; 3:2; 8:4; 13:10

From the Letter to the Hebrews

The author of Hebrrews is uncertain, but many Bible Scholars believe it was written by the Apostle Paul.

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accompany salvation.

–Hebrews 6:9

Application

We must learn to balance discipline with affirmation. Even when our children rebel, we must never give them even a hint that we anticipate they might continue to live beneath God’s standards.

Thought to Remember

Our children want to live up to our expectations. Let us give them worthy expectations to live up to!

Question for Discussion

Can you give me a model parent, someone I can live with and follow over an extended period of time?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted