Last post discussed the Holy Spirit helping us in our marriages, but let’s introduce some balance. “I will help you” is very different from “I will do everything.” The Holy Spirit helps us, but we still have responsibilities. The Holy Spirit is not going to supernaturally take control of a marriage when the individuals involved are not committed to putting forth the necessary effort. So help the Holy Spirit while he helps you!
The apostle Paul reveals the relationship in Ephesians 2:10: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God prepared good works for us, but we have to “walk in them.” We do not want to miss out on what God wants to do in our marriage because we are being lazy or selfish. Consider the responsibilities placed on our shoulders elsewhere in the New Testament:
Romans 13:13–14—Let us walk properly . . . Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Colossians 3:12–14—Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; [bear] with one another, and [forgive] one another . . . Put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
Note the calling we are given to walk, put on, make no provision for, bear with, and forgive.
Unfortunately, when it comes to our marriages we often feel alone. God’s standard for husbands and wives is so high that we ask, “Who is going to help me obey these commands?” The answer is the Holy Spirit will help you! Two words that summarize what it is like thinking about being the husbands and wives God commands us to be are “intimidating” and “overwhelming.”
As a husband, it is intimidating to think of being to your wife what Christ is to the church. If you are not intimidated by it, you do not understand what is expected of you.
As a wife, it is overwhelming to think of submitting to your husband as you should to the Lord. If we had to obey God’s commands on our own, we should feel not only overwhelmed or intimidated but completely hopeless. Because of a promise Jesus made us, though, we can feel hopeful.
Jesus told His disciples, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). If you have embraced the gospel, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. You are not alone! The Holy Spirit will help you do what God has commanded you to do. Continue reading Trust the Holy Spirit will help you in marriage!
We homeschool our children, taking them through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons when they’re around four. We’ve been pleased with the book, including the way the instruction is presented like a script. The words Katie is supposed to say are in red, and our child’s responses are in black. There’s a response provided if a child answers correctly, and a different response if a child answers incorrectly.
“Don’t deviate from the script!”
When I taught elementary school, I was taught a very similar program, called Corrective Reading. I remember thinking at the training, “Anyone could do this!” One of the most common instructions they told us was, “Don’t deviate from the script.”
Unfortunately, when I went back to the classroom to teach my own students there were times I completely disregarded the instruction I was given:
Sometimes I thought something was unnecessary.
Sometimes I thought I could say it better myself.
Sometimes I thought it would be better if I added something.
Here’s what I noticed very quickly:
When I followed the script, things went well.
When I deviated from the script, there were problems.
I’ve realized the most difficult times to obey are those requiring us to walk by faith. For example, we know it’s wrong to steal, murder, commit adultery, etc (Rom 2:14-15). It might take some willpower not to do those things, but it doesn’t take much faith. There are some situations though where we have to obey when it doesn’t make much sense…and that’s when it gets really tough…because of the strong temptation to justify disobedience.
Katie and I had to provide counsel and explain God’s Word in two identical situations where I knew it was going to be very difficult for the individuals to hear what Scripture had to say. The two situations took place less than a week apart, and in the second counseling session I remember thinking, “This is exactly what I said a few days ago.” It took a lot of faith for the listeners to do what God’s Word said, for the simple reason that it didn’t make much sense to them. In other words, they just had to obey by faith.
Then it got really interesting…
Only a few days later, Katie and I felt blindsided when we found ourselves in the exact same situation. We had to follow the counsel we’d recently twice provided. The conversation between Katie and I went like this: “We have to trust God. This is what we have to do, not because it seems right to us, but because this is what God says to do. We have to believe He knows what’s best…just like we told those people.”
Most people believe willpower is the necessary element in obedience. I would at least disagree so far as to say faith is equally necessary. Perhaps this is why God says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Me.” (Heb 11:6). Obedience is about looking at Scripture and saying, “This is what God says, so I’m going to trust Him and obey even though it’s difficult and argues against everything inside me.” Faith really means saying, “This doesn’t make sense to me, but I believe God knows what’s best so I’m going to do what His Word says.” Faith is about walking in obedience and trusting God with the consequences.
I think we all recognize the tremendous temptation to look at Scripture and say, “I know what the Bible says, but in this situation it doesn’t apply to me because of _______ so I’m going to do this instead.” Faith is what’s required to deny that temptation and obey.
Tuesday night I was at the young men’s study and Brendan covered Proverbs 3:8 which discusses obedience bringing “health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” I thought this was interesting because we don’t normally think of the physical benefits of obedience; usually we just think of obeying God affecting us spiritually, and perhaps mentally or emotionally. If we do think of the physical consequences of sin our minds immediately go to struggles with drugs or alcohol, but sin in general takes a physical toll on us. Listen to these words from David following his sin: “My bones wasted and I groaned all day long…my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psa 32:3-4), “My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my body wastes away” (Psa 31:10), and, “There is no health in my bones because of my sin” (Psa 38:3).
This past week I was watching a health lecture on YouTube. The doctor was talking about ways to avoid disease, keep a strong immune system, stay young, etc. He went through the normal recommendations regarding nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc. Then he started talking about avoiding things like bitterness, anger, and even unforgiveness. He described what happens in our bodies when we get angry: capillaries restrict, the heart has to work much harder, hormone levels are negatively affected, we become less reasonable, and our bodies become slower to heal, and experience poorer pulmonary function. One study showed individuals with the highest levels of anger had twice the risk of coronary artery disease and three times the risk of heart attack.
It was pretty hard to believe, but some scientists claimed chronic anger may be more dangerous than smoking and obesity as factors contributing to early death. The bible also tells us not to worry, and there’s plenty of evidence to show the physical harm in worrying. God’s Word is filled with tremendous spiritual, mental, emotional and physical ways to be blessed. Instead of milk it should say, “Obeying God does a body good.”
We recently finished looking at Simeon and Anna, two appointments that took place in the temple for Joseph and Mary. I wanted to share something that I’ve been thinking about regarding those meetings…
God orchestrated everything through Joseph and Mary’s obedience. What I mean is, Joseph and Mary were at the temple fulfilling their obligations under the Law, and God used that obedience to bring them into contact with Simeon and Anna. It was their obedience that provided the opportunity for these meetings to take place. I think it should encourage us to trust that when we’re obeying God He’s going to use our obedience to orchestrate events and situations in our lives.
Here’s another thought: Joseph and Mary weren’t trying to set up these meetings. All they were thinking about was obeying God. This made me think about how many times I try to make things happen. Sometimes I feel tempted to try to manipulate circumstances instead of just letting God work through my obedience. I feel like I need to help. I end up striving in my own effort when all I really need to do is focus on obedience and leave the results up to God. He doesn’t need my striving or help or effort. Part of walking by faith is just saying, “Lord, I’m going to go about my life and really let you take care of things. I’ll focus on obeying You and I’ll let You focus on everything else.”
Interestingly some of the most trouble I’ve had in my life after becoming a Christian has taken place when I’ve tried to help God. I’ve had problems when I thought I knew what was best. I’ve had problems when I thought I could bring about the best outcome instead of letting God do it. Those are times I didn’t walk by faith. It’s interesting Hebrews 11:6 says it’s actually impossible to please God without faith. That means no matter what I do, no matter how great it looks, if it’s not done in faith it’s not pleasing to God.
Looking back I’m sure if I would’ve just focused on obeying God – like Joseph and Mary were doing – God would’ve taken care of everything else. I probably would’ve saved myself some unnecessary frustration, while also being able to experience the blessings God put in Joseph and Mary’s lives.