Genesis 26:8 NASB
Back in the days when wooden ships depended on the wind to drive them, sailors had much to be concerned about: pirates, storms, and diseases. But often their greatest fear was “the doldrums” – an area near the equator characterized by calm and very light shifting winds. It could mean the death of the entire crew. The ship’s food and water supply would be depleted as they drifted for days, or even weeks, waiting for a breeze to put them back on course. We talk about something “taking the wind out of our sails,” meaning we’ve lost our momentum and we need something to get us back on course again. Your marriage doesn’t lose its momentum overnight, but over months and years of insensitivity and neglect. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. Author Doug Fields, in his book Creative Romance, writes: “Romancing your spouse can change those patterns, and it can be a lot of fun. There’s no quick fix to a stagnant marriage, of course, but you can lay aside the excuses and begin to date your sweetheart again.” God brought this charge against the church at Ephesus: “You have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4 NKJV). Then He told them how to remedy it: “Repent and do the first works” (v. 5 NKJV). Fearing King Abimelech would kill him and take his wife Rebekah, Isaac lied and said she was his sister. What gave him away? King Abimelech looked out a window, and, “Behold, Isaac was [sporting with] his wife Rebekah” (NAS). Romance saved his life and his marriage, and it can do the same for yours.
Soul food: Matt 5:8; Ps 24:3-6; Ps 18:17-26; 1 John 3:1-3
1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV
Not only did Jabez have great ambition, he had a growing faith and a deep trust in God. He had enough faith to pray and expect an answer. He was like the pioneer missionary William Carey, who said, “Expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.” There’s no mention of Jabez having any special ability or talent. The Bible doesn’t say he was wealthy or educated. He was simply a common man with an uncommon faith. Don’t worry about what you don’t have – if you have faith! God will give you the necessary power. He loves to use ordinary people who are willing to trust Him, and see them succeed. Lots of super-talented people sit on the sidelines while ordinary people with faith score the goals and win. And you can be one of them. Another interesting fact about Jabez is he apparently had some type of handicap or disability. In the Hebrew language “Jabez” means “painful.” Jabez caused his mother so much grief during childbirth that she named him Painful. How would you like to go through life with that name? He may have been unwanted and unloved. But he was stronger than his handicap, and his faith kept him going. His eyes weren’t on the past, they were on the future. He believed that if God blessed him, then his future would be greater than his past. What’s your handicap? Is it physical? Is it spiritual? Is it an unhappy childhood? Is it a frustrating job or a broken marriage? Whatever it may be, Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NIV).
Soul food: Deut 5-7; Mark 6:14-29; Ps 37:1-7; Prov 11:24-26
1 Corinthians 11:3 NAS
Paul writes, “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.” There is an order to how God operates. Just as Christ was submitted to God, husbands are supposed to be submitted to Christ, and wives are supposed to be submitted to godly husbands. Note the words, “the man is the head of the woman” – not all women. This arrangement doesn’t apply in the workplace or in other relationships. When we fail to honour God’s structure, Satan can enter our homes just as he entered the first home in Eden. “Submission” is an unpopular word today. But when we understand it from a biblical perspective, we see that it’s a positive force to accomplish good, not a negative force to subject women to an inferior status. The Greek word for submission, “hupotasso”, means to willingly place oneself under the authority of another. It doesn’t involve coercion, but rather a willingness to take who and what God made you, and submit it to the authority of another. In the husband’s case, to God, and in the wife’s case, to God and to her husband. Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV). When a husband loves his wife that way, and gives himself to her, she will gladly submit to his leadership in the home. It’s her husband’s love and protection that releases her into the fullness of her God-given potential.
Soul food: Dan 6:1-24; Acts 12:1-19
Genesis 3:6 NKJV
In Genesis, before Eve was created God warned Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit, and it was his responsibility to communicate that to his wife. Clearly, he didn’t do a very good job. As a result he lost his job and they ended up losing their home. Notice, the Devil first approached Eve with the idea of disobeying God. “When the woman saw that the tree was good…She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Question: Where was Adam when Eve was being deceived? “With her.” So here’s an important lesson: When a man fails to listen to God and obey Him, he can’t be the leader his wife and family need. He literally opens the door to Satan and allows him to come in and cause chaos in the family. When Satan was trying to sell Eve a bill of goods, Adam stood silently by instead of speaking up and saying, “That’s not right. Unless we follow the path God has laid out for us, we’ll lose everything.” The issue in marriage isn’t about who’s the boss; it’s about honouring the structure God created so everyone in the family can walk in His blessing. The Bible says Satan comes to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). But when a husband is truly submitted to Christ, he can protect his family. So if you’re a husband, you need to step up to the plate. And if you’re a wife, you need to encourage your husband to walk with God and let him know that it’s an honour and privilege to follow such a man.
Soul food: Col 3-4; Philemon; Mark 11:12-26; Ps 78:17-31; Prov 23:26-28
1 Corinthians 7:32 NIV
In society (and this often includes churches), being married or in a relationship seems like the preferred option, the thing that we’re all supposed to be aiming for in life. And if we remain single, well, it seems to be going against the norm. Not everyone is single out of choice; sometimes it really hurts that you’re not married. It’s okay to feel that hurt. For others, singleness is a conscious decision. They would rather do life unmarried – and that’s okay too. In fact, Paul recommends the single life: ‘Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do’ (1 Corinthians 7:8 NIV). So why does Paul recommend it? Well, being single means we have more opportunity to be focused on God, spending time with Him and seeking His will for our life. The Bible says: ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Of course, being married doesn’t mean that you can’t do this, it just means there are more distractions, because part of the God-given responsibility of being married is that you spend time working on your relationship. God doesn’t want us to live in complete isolation. But sharing our lives with someone may not necessarily include getting married. We may be blessed with a large group of friends, or a close family, or a supportive church family. If we’re struggling to handle being single, there’s one thing that we need to remember. Life is happening right now. And Jesus came so that we could have life to the full (take a look at John 10:10). We shouldn’t be seeing marriage as the time when our life starts. We can live our lives to the full right now, single or not.
Gen 14:18-20; Ps 110; Heb 5:5-11