Following God with Courage

"This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be

afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." -- Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lessons from Philippians 1:1- 6

On Thursday nights I lead a ladies bible study in my home. We have just started studying the book of Philippians. We are going through a book by Elizabeth George and studying how to have the peace Paul talks about in Philippians. I have been looking at the lessons from the perspective of a new wife and not just how to have peace in my life but how to have peace in my marriage. My husband and I really want a marriage that has God at the center. This was an easy choice for us to make in our heads, but putting it into action is taking some learning. The following are a few things that I have been learning for my marriage from the book of Philippians.

Philippians 1:1

"1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:"
  • Paul saw himself as a servant of Christ. Servants were to be quiet and not heard and to follow the precise orders of their master. Christ is our master. We should obey Him without fighting and arguing. This includes following His teachings through Paul on how wives should treat their husbands.
  • Ephesians 5:21-24 says, "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything."
  • To be a servant of Christ, I need to respect my husband and submit to him. It is not up to negotiation. It is something that I need to do. And, I need to really do it from the inside, not just the outside actions. The outside actions are nearly impossible if I do not internally think of him with esteem. As a little side note, as I have worked on the homework I gave myself and tried to praise my husband in front of others, it has helped to change the way I think of him. The more I try to think of ways to praise him and think highly of him, the softer I feel toward him inside and the easier it becomes to submit (give up my power over my life) to him. I am so thankful that I have married a man that works at submitting to God! I love you, my love.
Philippians 1:2

"2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
  • Elizabeth George says, "God's grace is His unmerited favor poured out upon those who have trusted in Jesus Christ. But did you know that the whole sustaining power of God is packaged within his grace and favor? God's grace means God's force and His power. It's God's marvelous grace that enables us to go through all the trials of life. Just as God is all that you need, so God's grace is also all that you need it to be."
  • In my marriage, this means that God's grace is from my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and it is all that I need. It is God's force and His power helping me to properly love my husband. This is so encouraging to me! I feel so inadequate to be a good, Godly wife. However, with the power of God strengthening me, this is a goal that I can strive for.

Philippians 1:6

"6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. "

  • No only did God start this good work in me of trying to be a good, Godly wife, but He will finish it. I can be confident of that. My husband and I sought God each step of the way from courtship, through engagement, and into marriage. God will not abandon us to do this alone now. God will complete His work. He will continue to pour out His grace on us. This is so very encouraging to me!
Philippians 1:3-5

"3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of you partnership in the gospel from the first day until now"
  • Paul thanked God for his friends and how much they loved God every time he thought of them. We see that he had joy in his heart as he did so.
  • I should pray for my husband this way. I should pray for him daily. And, I should thank God for him every time I do it. My husband strives daily to be a man of God in actions and feelings as well as in talk. I am truly blessed. I should not take this for granted. I should support him in prayer. It will bring joy to my heart. It will make my heart soft toward my husband as I pray for him and the decision and daily tasks that we must make together and separate. It will help my husband for me to agree with him in prayer and to pray for him, but it will also help me to love him better. God is so great to make a thing like prayer double edged with a double blessing!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Homework for Week of January 10, 2010

1. Practice treating my husband with esteem. Show him that he is important to me. Three ways I plan to do that are:

  • Enjoy tonight as he takes me out for my birthday, and show him that I enjoy it with my actions and words.
  • Hold my tongue more and/or speak to him as if he is a highly respected boss that I would not raise my voice to. Temper my words or let them go.
  • If he doesn't do something, let it go... as many times as I can. Don't get discouraged when I fail... just let the next thing go until it becomes easy.

2. Join my husband in things that he enjoys. Three ways I plan to do that:

  • Listen intently as he talks about his technical drawings.
  • Make him dessert at least one day this week.
  • Go to see Avitar with him again.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Two New Insights... for me

Let's start with the bible verse, emotions, and circumstances that God used to give me the insights, and then move on to the insights. Here goes...

My memory verse for this week is:

Colossians 3:16 (HCSB)
"Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and in singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your heart to God."

Great verse when you are down, but I had a hard time picking it. Finding a memory verse of the week is not an easy task... I have learned. But, I came across this one and felt impressed that it was the one for me. I put it on a posty on my computer at work yesterday, and I wrote it on my white board over my kitchen table last night so it would be ever before me all week. And, I have been thinking about it. I can hear God saying to me, through this verse, that I need to be grateful to Him more. It will help improve my marriage and my life in general. It will improve me and make me feel better.

I must confess, I have been down lately. Work is stressful right now and being a new wife is harder than I would have thought it would be. Learning to live with someone else after living alone for seven years is hard. I actually liked and enjoyed living alone with my dog. The change is hard... even when you love the other person so very much.

I have been hearing on the radio lately - with it being a new year and decade and all that - how we need to not set "New Year's Resolutions" or goals. They keep saying in sound bits on my radio station that what we really need to do is set our focus back on Christ. Can you see how that is similar to what the verse above is saying? "Let the message... dwell richly... with gratitude in your hearts to God."

Life circumstances are ever before me... but... as I have become more and more depressed over them, I have not turned from God. Oh, there has been a voice whispering to me to just give up. I hear it clearly. I have been tempted. Sometimes... I find it impossible to form thoughts to pray, but I refuse to turn my heart from God. I just lay there unable to talk to Him, but knowing I am with Him just the same. I choose faith, even though I can not bring myself to feel it.

Anyway, I think the Holy Spirit intercedes for me during these times and has been telling the Father what I need and what I feel. Proof of this to me is the answer I have been hearing from multiple sources... sound bits on the radio, memory verse selection, Sunday School lessons (my husband and I and our class have been studying the gospel of Mark), and now a newsletter from Steve Alton (an unexpected source!).

See, I was wondering how to put this verse into practice, how to kick all these negative thoughts out of my head, and how to make my husband's life better not worse because of me; and I read this practical advice in a newsletter from Steve Alten this morning.

  1. Each night before bed, at dinner or while taking an after dinner walk ask each other your success of the day. The success could be a great conversation, an accomplishment at work, something you are proud of, a situation where you helped someone, etc. The important thing is to focus on an accomplishment instead of failures.
  2. Feel Blessed instead of Stressed. Research says we can't be stressed and thankful at the same time. Thus, here is a simple ritual to help. Identify three things you are thankful for each day. You can create a gratitude journal or diary or blog or simply talk about them at dinner. And, anytime you are feeling stressed you can recall something you are thankful for.

Good advice. I plan to start the journal. Thank you God for hearing my heart. Please, continue to help me out of this murk I am in right now.

I am committed to finding one success to share with my husband at dinner tonight and sharing it with him. I pray he has one for me.

Here are my three things I am thankful for today:

  1. My husband and how he loves, supports, and helps me daily. Thank you, my love.
  2. My nieces. The fun we have and the relationship God blessed us with. I always wanted to be a special Aunt, and they make me feel very special. I look forward to making that cake with them tonight.
  3. My dog. He is my baby, and he is a blessing from God.

Until next time...

Monday, January 4, 2010

3 Things I can Respond to my Husband in front of Others

List three things you can respond to your husband in front of others that will show a heart of respect and honor toward him.
  1. You're right.
  2. What do you think is best?
  3. Praise what he does and how he lives his beliefs to others in front of him.