What it means to submit to the Lord

Text:

Ephesians 5:21-33

Acts 17:24-27

John 15:1-17

 

The word submission can sometimes leave a nasty taste in my mouth. First it’s sour, then it’s….bitter, hard to swallow, and I want to spit it out. I had a horrible view of submission, first when I was single, then when I started dating my husband. It is a topic that can be easily misunderstood but is very important in our faith walk. If you’re feeling brave, read on and you won’t regret it! 

We must know that submission is an act of obedience to God. The truth is we are all, in some way submitting to and obeying something in our lives. We obey the law of the land, we obey rules, we submit to cultural traditions and customs, we submit to the desires of our flesh, we submit to our parents, bosses and husbands. The list can go on and on. But for some reason an act of obedience to God is the most difficult.

God’s Word is very clear on the fact that He desires for us to obey him. Jesus said it himself in John 15:10

“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

Logically this makes so much sense, but practically I am constantly failing! Oh how I need a daily dose of grace overflowing from Jesus in order to keep going each day. (I struggle a lot when I’m in the car or like, you know, when I’m around people, can I get an amen?!)

This verse from Acts helps me to understand why God wants us to obey:

Acts 17:24-27 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.”

Obedience is not for God’s benefit – he has no needs! He does not have a to-do list that I can help Him with. He is all-powerful and the creator of everything, including me!! It’s in Him and through Him that I exist and live. Obedience is for us. It weaves our hearts closer to His and helps us to abide in Him with our every decision. A life of obedience (and repentance when we fail) glorifies God and reminds us of his holiness. He wants us to know him, to find him. And then even when we mess up, his GRACE is there to further remind us of Jesus’ perfection and power over sin.

http://barnimages.com/

Mmmm. Yes.

The cool thing here is that once we understand and can see submission through the lens of obedience to the Lord we can talk about submission in marriage. DON DON DON. Don’t give up now!

Let me just get one thing in the open; submitting to our husbands is not optional. It’s God’s plan ever since the beginning for marriage. I know this is countercultural and no one wants to be second chair in the band, but without the second chair, there is no harmony. As wives, we are not weak, we are meek; which is something I really struggled to understand when I first got married. We are gentle, but powerful. We are the helper, a position the Lord himself elevated. He deemed the Holy Spirit to be sent to us as the “Helper,” a divine position. The verse in 1 Peter 3:1 says, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…”. Do you know what that “same way” is? The same way that Jesus submitted to God’s will in going to the cross to die for our sins. Our obedience to God’s will and trust in Him is what he truly cares about. He mercifully tends to our hearts through our submission.

God’s Word clearly states that it’s our job to respect our husbands regardless of his actions. Unconditional respect. (Talk about difficult!! Only with the strength of Holy Spirit could we accomplish something so impossible- all the married women said Hallelujah!). Ephesians 5 gives instructions for wives:

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord…….So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Submit and respect.

Submit.

And respect.

Lots of food for thought for us married women. Sometimes all I can do is say “Holy Spirit help!”

The gift of singleness is not to be taken lightly either. It is not a curse, you’re not undesirable, and there’s nothing wrong with you! (I’m saying this in case any of you are like me- I thought terrible things about myself when I was single…) God deems being unmarried as a gift. Now, some of you think that gift is the equivalent of those ratchet pajamas your grandmother gave you that one Christmas, that you gave a weak smile to and said ‘thank you’, meanwhile on the inside you thought they were hideous and never wore them once. Not the same kind of gift, I assure you. You have a calling, an anointing on your life, and believe me, it took years for me to realize that too! You’re not alone. Your marital status is NOT an accident, and it’s NOT something that needs fixing.

Your ministry opportunities are endless because “an unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world-how she can please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34-35).  What a beautiful calling to “be concerned with the Lord’s affairs”. You are a force to be reckoned with..And my advice to you is to start learning to submit to and respect others now, just in case God has a spouse in store for your future.

I hope this letter to you, my beautiful sister in Christ, helps and encourages you today. You are a masterpiece and God is working for your good. Perhaps the ‘taste’ of submission and respect for you will morph into a rich, full-bodied and sweet flavor as you trust Jesus. I’ll be praying for you!

Here are some devotional, thought pondering questions I wanted to leave you with.

Be blessed,

Ro

  1. What are you trusting God with? What are you not trusting Him with? What do you need to take your hands off of and surrender to Him today?
  2. I’m sorry that was 3 questions in one.
  3. Do you feel that your identity is in your relationship status?
  4. How is God teaching you to live within your calling?
  5. When was the last time you told your husband you respect him?
  6. What is your view of submission and how can you trust God more today?

The Unexpected Christmas

Luke 1:26-38

There’s a piece of garland on my mantle that doesn’t quite look like the rest.  One side hanging down is luscious and full with lights while the other is sparse in its branches with the ribbon a bit crumpled.  I also have a string of lights that keeps falling down so it’s more like the shape of a boot than a beautiful, twinkling border around the peephole to my kitchen.  When I look at the uneven garland or hear the sound of my twinkle lights falling down once again, I get a little agitated.
You see, Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Everything feels magical to me, until the small details don’t quite live up to my expectations.

Luke145.jpg

When I notice those minute details, I can’t help but almost immediately feel a pang of guilt and think back to our dear sister Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus.  I’m sure she had her small annoyances in life (though I feel confident they looked awfully different than uneven garland).  But when we read about Mary, we read of a girl who had much more than small things not pan out as she expected.  Mary was engaged to be married.  Before her little visit by Gabriel, she and her family were probably excitedly making wedding plans.  She likely imagined that she and Joseph would have children.  That Joseph would spend his days working while she tended to the children.  She would raise them to be warriors, workers, and homemakers and when she had faithfully completed her task of raising the children, she and Joseph would grow old together.  Just a simple, normal existence our young friend probably imagined. What she didn’t dream of?  An angel telling her she would become pregnant—out of wedlock—with a One coming to save the whole world.  Who could imagine something like that?

But that’s just what Mary experienced.  She must have been terrified.  Terrified for what her life would look like, what others would think, what her betrothed would think!  There are many ways she could have responded to that conversation.  In anger, disrespect, or despair she could have replied to Gabriel.  But she had only one question:

 “How?”  As soon as it was explained to her, she quietly submitted and accepted the Lord’s will for her life.  “’I am the Lord’s slave,’ said Mary.  ‘May it be done to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:38)

Have you ever been caught off guard by something the Lord has asked of you?  Have you ever had your picture perfect life plan derailed?    Sometimes, we feel disappointed by the way He is asking us to live or the gifts he gives us that we do not necessarily regard as gifts.  In those instances, we can scream and cry and stomp our feet in resistance, or we can quietly accept the Lord’s will for us.  It will not always look perfect, but we can know that our lives are working according to His plan.  Through Mary’s obedience and submission, we were all given a Savior.  A sweet, beautiful, baby boy destined to save the world because one young Jewish girl was obedient to her calling.  During this season, I’ll be sitting back with a cup of hot cider, staring at my boot shaped lights and uneven garland praying that God continues to shatter my “perfect” expectations for life so He can replace them with a more holy path.

Where is He leading your life, sweet sister? Will you follow Him?

Love,
Ashley

Intentionality at its Finest

Scripture Focus:
1 John 4:8 & 19, Matthew 2:1-12 & Luke 2:15-21.

Happy December everyone! It may seem too early in the month to go full out with a Christmas devotional, but Costco was putting up Christmas stuff in late September so really I feel like this post is happening right on time! Can your heart ever be too ready for Christmas? I hope not. Sometimes I need the head start. A dark cloud of “unpreparedness” seems to follow me around this time if year; my camera batteries aren’t charged when I want to take a family photo, my attention to Advent starts about 20 days late or buying gifts is just plain rushed because I forgot to order them like in July. Am I the only one that procrastinates even though I love Christmas? I want to be prepared but sometimes I just fall short. Sometimes I am not the intentional person I want to be.

Intentionality is an incredibly attractive quality to me. Proooooobably because God has it…and I do not. I first realized this about God when I read in Genesis about how he made man in His image and breathed life into the first human ever: Adam. He didn’t breath life into any other living plant or animal, just humans. We are special, and God goes to extreme measures to express that to us. He does everything on purpose, He rules and creates with an agenda.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

What is His agenda you ask? I would vote love. For that is who He is.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Just let that soak in for a second. And let your heart also make a connection between God is love, and God is intentional. That is what leads us to the Christmas story.

So many people have what is traditionally known as a “nativity scene” in their Christmas ensemble, AKA a snapshot of the moments after Jesus’ birth.You can’t drive through a single neighborhood in the Bible Belt mid December without seeing at least one all lit up and beautiful in someone’s front yard. Being a girl who grew up in church, I was in my fair share of Christmas plays, usually cast as an angel or Mother Mary, but the characters that have always been the most intriguing to me are the wise men.

Matthew 2:1-3 gives us a glimpse of their story:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Now I’m not going to even get into the fact that these men came looking for Jesus after he was born. If I did that then the nativity scene would be ruined for you forever. What I will point out is that it was a star that rose in the sky that alerted them to the birth of our Savior Jesus. A star. Some may call it the Star of Bethlehem.

So these wise men were actually high class astronomers! They studied the stars and found something so astonishing in the sky that they traveled across nations to find the one whom they had decided was worth worshiping. Amazing. They must have been very brave and 100% sure they saw, in their own words, his star when it rose. There is a documentary about the star that I watch every year around Christmas time. It’s amazing, and I highly recommend it. It’s called The Star of Bethlehem. You can even watch a low picture-quality version on YouTube. Anyways, I know from watching this documentary that what the wise men saw from earth was actually the King planet Jupiter and the King star Regulus coming into such close conjunction that they appear as one light. To me that says “King of Kings.” Then nine months later Jupiter, the king planet and Venus, the mother planet, stack right beside each other to form the brightest star that anyone alive in that time had ever seen: The Star of Bethlehem!

Lucky for you friend, I took astronomy in high school (so I’m basically a complete expert, wink wink). What I know for sure is that the solar system works like clockwork. Everything spins and rotates in the same fashion today that it did thousands of years ago. The solar system is mathematical. Precise. It is predictable, even to us mere humans. We’ve created software with built-in algorithms that can show us exactly how the sky looked on any given day in the history of time. Yes, I’m for real, Google it. With that being said, think about the fact that God designed the universe. [Genesis 1:1 & 14-18]

He did it all at the very beginning. He knew from the start of creation the exact moment in time when Jesus would be born into our world to save our very souls.

He put the stars in place and set the planets in motion. He intentionally gave His Son a star of his very own and set signs in the sky so that we could know the Lord had come to us in a form we could recognize! He did it all at the very beginning. He knew from the start of creation the exact moment in time when Jesus would be born into our world to save our very souls. He knew. He saw that His beloved Son would die on a cross to pay for our guilty mistakes and He planned for it. His agenda is love. And He is intentional. And that love and intentionality has been directed at us since before we took our first breath as a human race.

Hallelujah.

Wild Rose

Another one of my favorite characters in the nativity scene is Mary, courageous mother of Jesus. Her story is fascinating. I love the way Luke words chapter 2 verse 19:
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

If Mary took the time and effort to treasure and ponder all the wonders of the birth of Jesus I believe we should follow her example, especially around the Christmas season. In doing so we honor the miracle of his birth that was written in the sky by His Father. Our Father. We can store up the treasure of God’s love in our hearts, ready to share it with anyone at a moment’s notice. We can praise God for His abundant love and His perfect ability to fulfill His every intention. God was ready and prepared for Christmas before He even gave life to our universe.

My hope is that you can be in awe of our great God and his love that He has poured out on us. His hand has written the most beautiful love story and Christmas is a special part of it. Learn from the wise men and Mary. Be thoughtful. Be courageous and worship our King!

Good tidings!
KJ

Here are a few questions to meditate on:

What do you know about the Star of Bethlehem?

What do you keep treasured up in your heart? Does it reflect what you want it to?

Listen to “Unto Us” by J.J. Heller