Part of a Beautiful Picture : Christ and the Church

 

Part of a Beautiful Picture: Christ and the Church

These things have been on my mind and heart, and I as a married woman I believe it’s such a helpful thing to meditate on as I walk out my role as a wife. I am excited to share a few of the things the Lord has taught my heart through His Word in regards to this subject.

Let’s look at Ephesians 5 together:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

 

I put the parts of this Scripture that directly speak to wives and their part in this beautiful picture in bold so they would stand out to us.

Wives, we are to be subject to our husbands, submitting to them as unto the Lord (vs 22), why because we are part of a bigger picture…. a picture of what the Church looks like. Unfortunately in our American culture, many marriages and many churches don’t look like this, so it can be difficult for people to wrap their minds around. Many people call themselves Christians, but do not submit themselves to the Lord Jesus with their lives. Unfortunately for these people they have bought into a lie, they think that saving faith is merely giving a mental acknowledgement to the truth of Jesus’s death on the cross and being raised from the dead, followed by simply confessing it with their mouths whether or not the truths or words impact their lives. The truth is in Scripture we see other descriptions of a true believer that don’t line up with this idea. Take this one for example:

Romans 6: 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

 

Being under grace means that we no longer let sin reign in us; we are now instruments of righteousness.

The Picture: Christ and the Church

It is the same in many marriages today, people don’t see the value in serving their husbands and submitting to them as unto the Lord. Now truly, you are in a marriage commitment whether you submit or not (the analogy does break down at this point), but try to follow me here on the topic of this bigger picture.

We are a part of a picture that we see here in Ephesians represents Christ and His Bride- the Church. For this reason our submission is very important so that we can be an accurate representation of this beautiful picture.

The S word

“Did she just say submit?” To some women this may be almost repulsive. Our culture has taught us to fight for our rights to be equal with our husbands, and to have equal say in everything….. or perhaps even fight to run the show. Many television shows today portray the father is the dumbo who doesn’t know anything and messes up everything; and mom is portrayed as the completely competent hero. That is a message that is being sent in almost every teen Disney or family sitcom out there. It’s sad.

Truth is, that is a total mockery of what Christian marriage is designed to represent. As the Church, we are not equal in authority with the Lord Jesus, He is our master! He does love us, He has called us friend, and He even gave up His life for us and bore the wrath that was meant for us because of our sins, but He is still our Lord. If we are in Christ, we do not run our own show, we are not in charge, we don’t even have equal say in what we are going to do…. we are to submit to His Word and commands.

Submission in marriage is a part of God’s perfect ordained order, and it has a greater purpose because of this profound mystery of us imperfect people being able to reflect the beauty of Christ and His Church.

Many women fear this submission thing…. they are afraid of becoming “door-mats”, or being taken advantage of. The believe that their husbands will make a bad decision that will affect them negatively, but this is where we have to trust that God’s wisdom is much wiser than our wisdom. This would not be in His Word if it were not true. We need to trust the Lord in this! And we can not do this without His Spirit indwelling us!

I believe that this looks a little different from marriage to marriage, some husbands desire more input from their wives, and others desire more respect without many questions being raised against what they are leading them to do. Sometimes this varies from situation to situation and we need to learn our husbands and learn to be discerning in each of situation. We should honor our husbands by communicating and asking them how and when they want our input and help in decision making. Within my own marriage there are many decisions that we make together and my husband desires my input and wants my help with discerning what we should do, and there are other instances that he makes a decision for us and even if it may not have been the decision I would’ve made, I agree and commit to it with him with my whole heart. This is a picture of how submission works in our marriage. I have to admit, this isn’t always easy. But the Lord continues to work in me and make my heart more submissive and less self-seeking. We must be honest with ourselves, and repent to the Lord and apologize to our husbands when we push our own will against theirs. We are not perfect, neither are our husbands; thankfully we can confess our sin to the Lord and He will forgive us. The more we walk in the Spirit, the easier submission becomes. We must be abiding in Christ in order to have the humility it takes to serve our husbands and think of them more highly than ourselves. We all know this truth, and it applies to this aspect of marriage as well: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

And we really can!  And when we are walking in this way, what a beautiful part of a picture we get to represent! To be a part of that glorious picture of Christ and the Church is a great honor!

I hope you continue to be encouraged by this, I know that this is not often talked about in certain churches, and for many of you this really upsets you because of the things you have been taught by our culture, and maybe even things you have been falsely taught from churches. Many pastors tip-toe around these Scriptures and change the meanings of them to fit with the ideas of the culture. I pray that you will be receptive to God’s truth. If this is not something you’ve ever heard before, or even if this is something that upsets or offends you, I beg you to seek the Lord in prayer and search the Scriptures for yourself to see what they say on this subject. The above verses are not the only ones that you will find if you look, there are many others.

Blessings to all of you as you serve your husbands this week!

For your further pursuit:

Celebrating Biblical Marriage

celebrating biblical marriage

Happy Valentine’s Day, ladies!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to write on one of my most favorite topics. <3 Biblical Marriage. <3

Biblical marriage is something to be celebrated! Something to pray for and pursue! God shows us in His Word how to conduct ourselves within relationships, and has specific instructions for ways that we are to conduct ourselves within marriage. I love to blog about those things here at Abiding Woman, and will continue because they are very important!

God’s design for marriage is that we would be a picture of Jesus and His bride! We get the opportunity to be a Part of a Beautiful Picture! An integral piece of this picture is that we as women are submissive to and trusting of our husbands just as we submit to and trust the Lord. I said “trust” because trust is a huge part of submission and it is also a primary way to build intimacy within your marriage. It is difficult for your husband to be in intimate conversation with you (which is what women tend to crave as intimacy) when he feels that you do not trust where he is leading your family.  How can he be safe to share his heart with a wife who acts as if she knows better than he does about how things should go. That is not the design God laid out for your marriage.

Epesians 5: 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything

Now some are thinking, “well that is fine and good for some men, but you don’t know my husband…. he isn’t walking with the Lord, he makes terrible decisions, and he isn’t looking out for my best interest”. I am very sorry if this is the case, however we are told that our example is Sarah the wife of Abraham, and if anyone had a reason to doubt her husband’s judgments on some things, it would’ve been her.

 1Peter 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

Think about it, what would you have done if your husband told you to lie and say you were his sister and let you be taken off by another man to be with him? What if your husband told you he was going to take your child up on a mountain and sacrifice him? Sarah submitted to her husband and trusted the Lord who was over her husband. That is what we must do also as we are instructed here. The Bible doesn’t say to submit to your husband if it sounds like he has a good idea, it says submit like Sarah did. Wow! That’s a tall order, and believe me girls, I don’t always do this perfectly, but when I fail I must repent to the Lord and to my husband.

If you desire to cultivate intimacy in your marriage, it starts with you! A disclaimer though: I can’t promise you that the result you desire will come from your obedience. God’s not a vending machine! We don’t obey to get an earthly result of blessing, we obey because God is worthy of our obedience.

I say this because my marriage hasn’t always been the blessing that it is today…. in fact we went through some REALLY hard years. During that time, I believed a lie that if I would just obey God and submit to my husband that the Lord would give me a good and happy marriage. There was one day that I will never forget, we had been fighting (I mean REALLY FIGHTING), and I left because I had somewhere I had to be, on that drive I prayed in tears the same kind of prayer I always prayed, “God where are you in this? I’m obeying your Word as best I can, why will you not fix my marriage?” It was at this time that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart much like God spoke to Job after all of his questioning…..

I realized in that moment what a great sin I was committing, I was trying to manipulate God with my obedience to get what I wanted. A good marriage is a good thing to desire, but it is not something we can demand! In that moment, I felt the Lord say to me, “You must obey Me even if your marriage NEVER changes.” I then had to confess, and weep for my own sin.  I began to obey God in my marriage for the sake of obeying Him alone. Amazingly enough, God in His great mercy did end up changing the heart of my husband, and today we do have a marriage that blesses me daily! However, God did not have to do that for me! But I am thankful that He did! I have written a post about “7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Marriage” and this would be particularly helpful to the wife who is walking through a difficult marriage. The Lord has graciously shown me so much through those times of struggle, and I hope that I can use that to help others walking a similar path that I did.

And if you are looking for some practical ways that you can love your husband, I have a post from last Valentines Day entitled “20 Ways to Love Your Husband“. I hope that you and your husband will be blessed by it!

Our Number One Ministry

number one ministryThen the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone;

 I will make him a helper suitable for him.” -Genesis 2:18

 If you are a married woman, then God has given you a ministry to be a helper to your husband. From the beginning, the first woman was made to be a helper to her husband, and that is God’s plan for us who are married as well.

Our number one ministry is to be a helper to our husbands!

Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in other ministries, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have outside hobbies, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work outside the home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue goals outside of marriage and family life……. what it does mean is that serving your husband should be your number one priority and ministry. It comes first, it isn’t what little energy you have left over at the end of the day. Make your husband a priority! Ask him how you can help him while he is away at work? Remember that keeping a clean and relaxing home, food in the fridge, meals planned, and well-managed children is also a huge help to your husband! Whether your husband is a Godly man or an unbeliever, this is God’s plan for you to serve and help your husband. Always remember that our marriage is to be a picture of Christ and His Bride (the church). As the one who represents the church, we should be joyfully serving our husbands with our best efforts and energy.

Marriage Like Christ and the Church

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

You can see in the first set of verses above that we are called to be subject to (serve and submit to) our husbands as we represent the Bride of Christ in our marriages. And in a Biblical marriage with a Godly husband and wife, the husband will also be pursuing the Scriptures in the second half of this passage…. loving his wife like Christ loved the church. But even if your man isn’t loving you well, this doesn’t negate God’s ministry he has given to you to be a helper to your husband. Follow God’s commands knowing that your Father who sees in Heaven will reward you, that there is joy in obedience, and that God is worthy whether or not your husband is.

A message to those who are abused:

Dear Abused Sisters, These Scriptures are for you as well, but it will look much differently than what things look like within a normal marriage. I’m sad that I have to include a portion like this in a post of this nature, but it is necessary as many men use these same Scriptures to Lord over their wives in an unBiblical and abusive way. If you are in an unsafe environment, serve your husband well by seeking help from your church elders or Christians that you can trust, and serve him by keeping yourself and your children safe! Living in a fallen world makes things messy sometimes, and it can be hard to discern the best thing to do in all situations…. pray and don’t stop praying for wisdom and restoration!  The best thing that could happen to a husband abusing his wife is for what is being hidden to be brought to light so that he can be held accountable for his actions, and hopefully be called to repentance. I highly recommend seeking a Biblical counselor that is ACBC certified (formerly NANC) as soon as you possibly can! I’m serious…. do this right now. Find a certified counselor here.  Even if your husband will not go and it is just for you to receive counseling for guidance and healing.

Blessings on all of you ladies as you serve your husbands in your individual homes!

In 7 Years of Marriage

7 things

Everyone, just take a few moments and marvel at the photography skills of a four year old. Sure, it’s a blurry picture, but it’s one of my favorites. Why?

Because this picture was taken about a year ago, at a time when I realized the Lord really had broken through and answered a prayer I had been praying for the previous 6 years. He blessed me with a good, healthy, thriving marriage. There is a whole long story that I one day hope to share, but long story short, my husband was not a believer when we first got married (although he and I both thought he was, time and fruit proved differently.) This was terribly hard, and while I don’t have time to delve off into the details today, I want to take a little time to celebrate our making it to our 7 year anniversary!

And to thank God for saving my husband and saving my marriage!

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated being married for 7 years!

Honestly, it may not sound like much (7 years is not THAT long), but I feel like it’s quite an accomplishment that has only been possible through the Lord!

Marriage has been the most sanctifying and difficult thing that the Lord has placed in my life thus far. There were times that it seemed much easier to walk away than to stick it out, but the Lord had better plans…. plans to show us a miracle within the 4 walls of our own home.

Despite the messiness and pain in our situation, the Lord kept speaking hope into my heart, I knew how faithful He was, and I believed that one day we’d see the dry bones live! I believed one day He would change things drastically.

And He did.

All glory to God!

It might seem that because it was my husband that needed to be born again that the problems were all because of him, but that isn’t true. I know that the Lord has taught him so much over the last 7 years, but I also know that I needed to learn some very important lessons as well.
Here are 7 of them.

7 things

  1. Prayer changes things, not nagging.
  2. Forgiving means choosing not to bring it up again to your husband, to others, or even in your mind.
  3. Your husband wasn’t given to you to satisfy you, only God can satisfy the human heart.
  4. Focus on what you are suppose to be doing, not on what your husband is suppose to be doing.
  5. You don’t have to attend every argument that you’re invited to.
  6. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, people who love you are for your marriage, and God is for your marriage; you are not alone.
  7. Always remember that love is an action word: it is patient, kind, selfless, not boasting or prideful, it protects, hopes, trusts, perseveres! Saying “I love you” should be lived out in these ways moment by moment.

20 Ways to Love your Husband

20 ways to love your husband

Well it’s here tomorrow, the day of love! My girls have been counting down to the days to Valentines Day because my sweet husband has been telling them about how he plans to take us all out on a special date. They have been picking out dresses and making crafts for him all week. It’s so sweet to watch them consider more and more ways that they can show daddy love. It got me thinking…. I want to come up with a list of ways that I can show my husband love, not just tomorrow but for each day of my life. I wanted to share this list with you all to encourage you to love your husbands well. Considering that our purpose as married women is to be a help mate and companion to our husbands, I think this is a very valuable thing to consider that will honor the Lord.

20 Ways to love your husband:

1. Smile and greet him joyfully in the mornings and when he gets home from work.

2. Choose not to nag him, question his ideas, or complain, but instead thank him for the good things he does for your family (big and small).

3. Choose to think good thoughts of your husband and to speak good words about him to your friends.

4. Ask your husband how you can help him accomplish his goals for the week, or if there is anything you can do differently to make things easier for him.

5. Put him first over the children, friends, and other obligations. Be willing to rearrange your schedule for him.

6. Consider him as more important than yourself.

7. Create a clean and peaceful environment for him to come home to.

8. Don’t try to compete with him, if he says he is tired or has hard a hard day…. just listen, don’t start trying to “one up” him by telling him how hard your day was or how you aren’t getting any sleep because of the baby. Instead listen, encourage, and offer to pray for him.

9. If he is having a bad day or seems a little edgy, answer him with kindness and gentleness, and avoid bringing up stressful topics or asking unnecessary questions. Remember, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

10. Submit to him without complaining or questioning his reasons, if he requests something that he wants you or the kids to do or not to do, then simply say “yes”, and if you have questions ask them after you have expressed that you will do what he’s asking no matter what he says to your questions. This shows you aren’t fighting for your own way. Choose to trust him as the leader of your home.

11. Leave him sweet notes of encouragement in places he will see them.  Ideas: post-it note on the coffee pot, a little card in his lunch you packed him for work, a little letter tucked inside his Bible or devotional book, the possibilities are endless.

12. Get the kids to bed early and put on a special outfit that is for his eyes only. ;-)

13. Feed him and the kids well. Make sure the pantry and fridge are stocked with good and healthy things to eat and things that you know he likes.

14. Dress yourself in a way that shows him respect. Cover your body and let it be for his eyes only. And present yourself well in public and at home. Make an effort to be pleasing to him in your appearance, wear things he likes and get rid of the things he says he doesn’t care for.

15. Joyfully accept instruction and ideas from him.

16. Do kind things for him without expecting anything in return.

17. Pray for him continually! Bless him and pray for God to give him what he needs to be the leader and provider of your home. Pray for him to have victory over sins in his life. Pray for God to use him mightily to advance His kingdom.

18. Willingly forgive without expecting an apology, and choose not to bring it up or hold it over his head, and don’t bring it up to justify yourself whenever you make a mistake. Jesus forgave us and He was perfect, so we who are sinful should be all the more willing to forgive our husbands when we are wronged in the same way that Christ forgives us.

19. Be joyful and content in your current situation whatever it may be. Don’t complain and ask for more and do not compare him to your friends’ husbands or other men in your life. Express that you are happy with who he is and what he provides for you. (Helpful tip here: it’s not your husband’s job to fulfill you and meet all of your needs anyway, only Jesus can do that for you!)

20. Focus on honoring the Lord with your time, conduct, and decisions… if we are honoring the Lord then will be honoring our husbands as well.

I hope you ladies all have a happy Valentines day and can use some of these ideas tomorrow and from now on to show your husbands that you love them! And be content with whatever your husband does for you tomorrow, if he forgets Valentines Day altogether, not a big deal. You show love without expecting it in return because this honors the Lord!

Be blessed!