He Hears and We Praise

Hear my cry, O God; 
Attend to my prayer. 
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, 
When my heart is overwhelmed; 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 

For You have been a shelter for me, 
A strong tower from the enemy. 
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; 
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. 

Selah 

For You, O God, have heard my vows; 
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name. 
You will prolong the king’s life, 
His years as many generations. 
He shall abide before God forever. 
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him! 

So I will sing praise to Your name forever, 
That I may daily perform my vows. 

  • Psalm 61 – A Psalm of David

During the course of our nightly Bible reading, my wife and I encountered this Psalm this week. As you were just reading it — if your experience was like mine — you may have only seen the text for its informational value, without genuinely identifying with writer’s perspective.  After all, the life of David was nothing like ours, right?  He was a shepherd, a warrior, a fugitive, and ultimately king over Israel.  And although the low points in David’s life as a husband, father, and leader are well-known, his fierce devotion and reverence for The Lord was exceptional — so much so that God declared that his lineage would lead to The Messiah, who Himself, is destined to occupy David’s throne eternally (2 Samuel 7:16; Luke 1:31-33).

So, “what” you may be asking, “does this have to do with me?”  Although the specifics of David’s life and times are far removed from ours, virtually all of us can relate to the adverse emotional and spiritual effects that he suffered.  Like the psalmist, we too can feel so overwhelmed, defeated, vulnerable, and abandoned, that we cannot help but plead to God alone for His intervention on our behalf.  Like David, we also can find security in the truth of God’s Word, encouraged by His record of faithfulness to those who know and trust Him.

The Lord is more than able to hear — and lovingly respond to — our longings for His compassion and mercy.  Does that hope give you the desire to sing praise to His name forever?

– Peace –

Practically Speaking

Selections from Proverbs 15: 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, 
But a harsh word stirs up anger. 
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, 
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.  (1-2) 

 
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, 
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.  (4) 

 
The lips of the wise spread knowledge, 
But the hearts of fools are not so.  (7) 

 
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, 
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.  (18) 

 
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, 
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.  (28) 

 

A couple does not have to be married for very long before they realize that conflict is inevitable.  No matter how romantic the courtship, wedding, and honeymoon may have been, there comes a time when a wife and husband find themselves disagreeing with each other and/or behaving in ways that fall short of each other’s expectations.

Now although conflict cannot be avoided, “fighting” — as in raised voices, demeaning words, threatening actions, hostile feelings, and such — certainly can be avoided.  These excerpts from Proverbs 15 show us that the Scriptures are rich in practical applications for how to speak with righteousness and wisdom, rather than foolishness and wickedness.

As you might imagine, a whole day’s worth of writing on the subject of conflict-resolution in marriage would not cover all there is to say, but our challenge to you is this: Take time to re-read those verses (out loud, together) and compare them against your typical, characteristic behaviors.  Do you — or does your spouse — find that you are more at the slow-to-anger end of the spectrum, or the hot-tempered end?  Let’s be wise enough to recognize where there is room for improvement; not foolish enough to “justify” our communication short-comings.

Peace –

His Passion… for You

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” — Mark 16:1-7

 

… He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. — Acts 1:3b

 

He is risen! He is risen, indeed! It is an amazing foundational truth with implications for every aspect of our lives, including our lives as wives and husbands. Building on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, consider these truths from the Book of Romans, as well:

–  all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23)

–  God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (5:8)

–  the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord (6:23)

–  if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (10:9)

–  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (12:1-2)

 

Therefore, if Christ is your Lord and Savior, He has:

–  authority to decree and establish His expectation that marriage is to be a life-long covenant between a husband and wife

–  power, through The Holy Spirit, to enable you to apply what He taught concerning marriage

–  wisdom, revealed in The Scriptures, that we can fully trust as He has exemplified what it means and how it looks to lead through humbly serving; to submit willingly to the headship of another; to love intentionally, sacrificially, and unconditionally.

 

It is our prayer and our heart’s desire that the knowledge and significance of Christ’s resurrection is an integral dimension of your life, both today and everyday!

 

How 1 Plus 1 Is 1

Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.  And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”  They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”  But Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again.  And He said to them, Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”  – Mark 10:2-12 NASB

 

In this passage, we find doctrinal truth about marriage in The Lord’s response to Pharisees who thought they could prove that He was a false teacher.  Though He often spoke in parables, this was one of those circumstances in which Jesus was clear and direct.  Not only did His antagonists fail to trick Him into contradicting the Law, but He reiterated the significance of the phrase “the two shall become one flesh”.

 

When we, as Believers, think about the term “one flesh” it’s not unusual for us to view it as a symbolic or figurative expression.  We tend to equate it with “oneness“, but the terms are not completely interchangeable.  Now certainly a marriage is most likely to thrive when a wife and husband are unified in their interests and objectives, but there’s more to what’s meant by “one flesh” than the pursuit of marital harmony.  When a man and woman unite in physical, sexual intimacy, the one-flesh relationship is established, in God’s eyes.  As our Creator, He even declares that the joining-together is His accomplishment, and that we do not have the prerogative to tear apart what He has formed.  Furthermore, once a couple has been joined together, the one-flesh relationship exists/endures, even if “oneness” is not evident in their feelings, actions, or degree of commitment.

 

Christ made it known to His critics and followers alike: when God’s will and purpose concerning marriage is violated, He calls it adultery, whether by infidelity during marriage or when an unfounded divorce from one spouse (Matthew 19:9) is followed by remarriage to another.

 

What will it take for us to practice the boldness of Christ?  When we see a brother or sister in a marriage that appears to be hopelessly dysfunctional, do we let our empathy for their plight prevent us from steering that friend toward the remedy of God’s word?  If you have — or are — a spouse that “wants out” of your marriage, are you willing to seek out Biblical wisdom, rather than withdrawing from Christ-honoring influences?

 

With this knowledge of God’s expectations, let us strive to be husbands and wives who are — first and foremost — whole-heartedly committed to Christ, in order that our marriages might be examples of the power of His grace!

 

 

 

To Trust or Complain

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?  We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” — Numbers 11:4-6 

 

These three verses recount one of the many instances in which the children of Israel  during their exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land  found themselves complaining about the trying nature of their circumstances.  Despite the numerous and amazing miracles that they saw The Lord perform on their behalf when He liberated them from bondage, they seemed quick to complain, rather than trusting God, when the challenges of their journey became overwhelming. 

 

Hate to say it, but the tendency to become unappreciative, and even critical of that which The Lord has provided, is not exclusive to Old Testament Israel.  It’s a habit that is common today.  For exampleconflict and adversity can cause us (husbands and wives) to become a bit short-sighted.  Just as the children of Israel forgot how desperately they wanted freedom from slavery, once their food and water options became limited, we can also forget how excited we were to get married, once the joy of romance gives way to friction in our marital interactions. 

 

Read further in Numbers 11 or, for that matter, read all of Exodus though Numbersyou’ll find that rather than shielding His people from hardships, The Lord sought to refine their ability to trust Him by deliberately bringing them face to face with those between-the-enemy-and-the-Red-Sea predicaments.  He develops our spiritual maturity in the same way; by leading us through the very difficulties that test, reveal, and strengthen our faith. 

 

This week’s challenge: Do you see your spouse as God’s divine provision for you?  Today, is your spouse someone you desire or despise?  If you have legitimate concerns about a lack of harmony in your marriage, instead of letting those concerns turn into complaints (or longings for the life you left) we encourage you to trust The Lord!  Consider looking to Him for wisdom and direction, with Philippians 4:6-7 in mind: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

 

 

“Magnify The Lord!”

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

–          Psalm 34:1-3

We may easily identify with these words of the psalmist during a spirited Sunday worship service, but could “all times” and “continually” include those times when our married lives are not quite blissful?  Sometimes you and your spouse may have conflicting expectations.  Sometimes issues with family members, co-workers, and even fellow-believers, can seem incompatible with the idea of having praise on our lips.  Yet notice: The Lord is the object and focus of praise!  He is The One about whom we can boast and experience gladness because we have the assurance of His timeless, unfailing love and His ever-present grace.

An assignment for husbands: if you and your wife are not already sharing time in God’s Word, daily, we encourage you to read Psalm 34 with her (in its entirety) today.  Then take a moment to appreciate the fact that you can exalt His name together!