Jesus knows better than any of us the depths of suffering. For, to the Lord, a thousand years is as one day, and one day is as a thousand years. A thousand years of being mocked, scourged and crucified. Three thousand years in the stone cold grave. Separated from His Father for the only time in all of eternity, the One became Two that the many might become One in Him. May we be eternally grateful.

It is His self-sacrificial Love that we husbands are called to. He is this very love, and He is our only Hope of even going in the right direction towards Him, let alone getting within a fathom of His Love. Husbands, agape your wives as the Anointed agapaed the ecclesia! How can our souls, hearts and minds ever get their arms around that one!?

By contrast, taking an example from the article that DaNiel posted, any man who tells his wife that her smile looks funny, or otherwise speaks to her in a derogatory manner should be ashamed. He might be at best immature, or at worst a devil, but his words and the heart from which they spring are harboring rebellion against the Living God.

Page one of the bible says “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created THEM.” Genesis 1:26 – 27. 1 Peter 3:7-10 says “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit…”

Yahweh has established that there is no place for chauvinism in His kingdom. He has established this as rock solid fact, which He carves into the hearts of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. This is most especially true for each husband to love his wife, but also for Brothers as they relate to their Sisters, and as Proverbs 24:18 says, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. So, the larger question for all of us in the Body is, are we caring for one another as brothers and sisters should?

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians begins with a blessing to God for His predetermined plan to choose and adopt them, and to prepare good works for them to walk in, and “to know the love of the Anointed which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (3:19). Based on all of this, he wrote “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (4:1-3). Then he wrote about the unity of the Body and Spirit in the bond of peace and about how this is all expressed. He wrote “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for building up, according to the need of the moment, so that you will give grace to those who hear…Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in the Anointed also has forgiven you.” (4:29 & 32). The first 2/3 of chapter 5 is an admonishment to avoid the world’s deception and to not partake of its ways.

As he returned to writing of what we should do, he wrote “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed to God, even the Father, and be subject to one another in the fear of the Anointed. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord…husbands love your wives just as the Anointed loved the ecclesia and gave himself up for her…” (5:18 – 33).

The word translated into English as “subject” or “submit” is “hupotasso”. This means “to arrange under”, from “hupo” which means “under” and “tasso” which means “arrange”. It is used in other scriptures that talk about God the Father or Jesus arranging or placing things under someone. Here in Ephesians 5 it is saying that we should voluntarily arrange or place ourselves under (A) one another in the Body and (B) each wife under her husband. Is it an accident that the commands A and B are right next to one another?

This placement raises the question: When should I subject my will to Marissa’s, as she is my sister in the Lord? When should she subject her will to mine, as I am her brother in the Lord? And when should she subject her will to mine as I am her husband, her lord? Not surprisingly, we are still working this out after 3 ½ brief years of marriage. : ) The Lord did bring this particular conundrum to our attention before we married, so that we have at least been aware of it from the beginning.

One interesting and useful (when used honestly) counterpoint to this, which a dear brother pointed out to me some months ago, occurs in the case of a husband who has made a profession of faith and expressed a desire to grow in his walk with the Lord. If, or when, such a husband says something hurtful to his wife, if she does not point this out to him in some way, then she may actually be disobeying Eph 5:22 by failing to support his walk with the Lord. That is a helpful thought, but of course it could be misused by someone who is manipulative.

The issue is her heart. The difference between a helpmeet and a nit picker is not necessarily what she says, but how she says it. This principle is applicable to both women and men in various relationships. This is why the Lord commands us to remove the log from our own eye for the purpose that we may help our brother remove the speck from his eye.

So, what should a godly woman do if her husband speaks to her harshly? Should she not begin with prayer for him, remembering that the most important relationships that are being damaged by his words are (A) the relationship between her husband and Jesus, and (B) her relationship with Jesus? There are a number of things that the Lord may direct her to do from here. For example, she most likely will have a log in her eye on the subject and should seek to remove that, and then seek how the Lord wants her to help her husband to see the speck in his eye clearly if he is a believer, or to perhaps appeal to him in some other way if he’s a non-believer. The passage in 1 Peter 2 – 3 should also be given weight, whether he is a believer or not. If at some point the Lord directs her to speak with someone about it, she might consider one of the shepherds (pastors) she knows or perhaps a mother or sister in the faith that is a friend who she believes will give her godly counsel, rather than worldly wisdom. Brothers may need to be brought in to help the situation if the shepherd’s and/or mother/sister’s help does not bring about repentance and restoration in the relationship. The husband of the mother/sister may be a likely brother to start with.

Going over this topic with the Lord these past weeks has been good for Marissa and me to refocus on this matter. Since we are told to do all three of these things (me to submit to her as sister, and her to submit to me as brother and/or husband), and yet we can only do one or two in response to a particular situation, it therefore seems that the only way we can know which to do in a particular moment is… whatever He directs us to in that moment. Which means we need to be walking in purity and thanksgiving of heart, mind & soul to be in touch with Him to know. Isn’t this true in every sphere of life? (“Moses, you shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Ex 20:4). “Moses, make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; and it shall come about that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live.” Num 21:8) This is God’s heart of Life. For us to work through mysterious things like this with Him as Family, and to obey Him.

In Mark 3:31-35 He calls us to be His divine Family (“…For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother”) from a time and culture where parents and siblings lived in the same town, often in the same home or next door to one another. In John 19:26 – 27, in the last moment before His death, He shows that He means this by directing his mother to live with one of His spiritual Brothers, rather than one of His earthly brothers who at the time (based on John 7:1-5) were not believing in Him. The custom at the time would have been for Mary to live with her biological sons since Joseph had apparently passed away sometime after the events of Luke 2.

In places like Deuteronomy, Psalms, Acts, Ephesians, Hebrews and 1 Peter, throughout His word, God tells us and displays for us the Way to share His Life, by speaking of His commandments as we rise up, sit down and walk along the way, to share all things in common, that there be no needy amongst us. In 1 Cor 12 – 14 we are described as being knitted and joined together as parts of one glorious Body, even as the heart of Jonathan was knit to David, so we are to be knit together with many adjoining members of His Body. In fact, have you noticed that the great Love passage in 1 Cor 13 that is so often spoken of at weddings and written on picture frames in the context of the love between a husband and wife (which is a perfectly wonderful application) was in fact contextually written by God with respect to the Life and Love amongst all the members of His Body?

Each of us being closely, intimately, connected with Jesus is absolutely essential to Real Life! But He does not merely desire a large number of individual followers, or even individual households. The purpose of this universe is to give birth to a Bride for Jesus! One Bride! We are to be one, even as He and the Father are One! Daily, interconnected, close, loving Family sibling and parent/child relationships among members of His Body, guided by Him as our Head, is many things. 1) It is the normal, true Christian life. 2) It is the ultimate expression of His Life that we should EXPECT to be part of, see and experience. 3) It removes 95% of the problems that otherwise so easily beset us before they even occur, and equips us as we take each step looking to Jesus and in response to His Spirit to solve the remaining 5% in a way that brings about eternal life and defeats satan.

If we truly live in His reality, then shouldn’t we expect that a young man and woman who grew up in such a kingdom would have the loving counsel of many spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to help them discern the will of the Lord in the first place as to whether or not they should marry? And as they walk through married life, if the husband should say something demeaning to his wife that it would be very likely (especially if he made a habit of this) that at some point one of her Brothers would overhear him saying it, check with the Spirit, and take him aside for a loving rebuke?

The fact is that if we want to save marriages, we have to address the fact that by the time serious symptomatic problems show up, the titanic is already close to sinking. The iceberg that caused the problem happened years or decades before that. The seed of bitterness was allowed to grow deep, deep roots downward and to push upward into a seed head of bitterness and hatred, so that when the wife realizes that he’s being mean and is bearing the fruit of the flesh and dares to question him, even in a soft and humble way, SMACK comes the chair across her face. Can you imagine? But as you imagine, do you dwell on that thought? If you do, does the same seed of bitterness take root in you as well? What is the Lord going to do about that?

God help us. We need to be closer with one another all of the time. Growing in righteousness, holiness, and truth. Being holy, for He is holy. Growing up to a mature man in the Anointed. We need to turn our focus off of the things of this world and onto Him. We need to be consecrated, holy, and set apart as we love one another and as we reach out to the lost. We must be in the world while following Jesus and thus never be a partaker of the world.

Please allow me to reverse engineer Phil 4:8-9 for a moment, if you would. “Finally, brethren, whatever is false, whatever is dishonorable, whatever is wrong, whatever is defiled, whatever is ugly, whatever is of bad reputation, if there is any slothfulness and if anything shameful, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in the world, (in your peers at work, in your peers at “church”, in the media, etc.) practice these things, and the god of chaos will be with you.” We simply cannot fill our minds with popular media and not expect to reap serious, negative, present and eternal consequences.

A person once said “no one should feel that they have to submit to abuse”. I am grateful to Jesus that He hupotassoed to the abuse of His own people in order to offer Himself as The perfect sacrifice, and that He raised Himself up to new life. If Jesus had refused to subject Himself to that, then I would still be dead in my sins.

The Lord expresses Himself through David in Psalm 55, saying in v 12 – 19 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng. Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive to sheol, for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst. As for me, I shall call upon God, and Yahweh will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who strive with me. God will hear and answer them, (even the One Who sits enthroned from of old – Selah – with Whom there is no change).”

God is doing something very deep here. I don’t fully understand it, but I see it interwoven throughout scripture. If our attitude is “I will never suffer” or “No one should ever suffer” then we are going to miss out on it. David apprehended it, that is he understood it and took it to heart, when he fled from Saul for many months, refusing to turn his hand against Yahweh’s anointed, but rather entrusting himself to God. Abraham walked right into the heart of God when he offered up his only begotten son, whom he loved, as a sacrifice to God. Job understood when after the loss of all of his children, the loss of the heart of his own wife (his own flesh whom satan afflicted) who turned against him and encouraged him to curse God and die, and the loss of his own physical health, he said “though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15).

More recently, Paul wrote to the Philippians, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of the Anointed. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain the Anointed, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in the Anointed, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and (get this) the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead…” (Phil 3:7 – 11).

So, God submits Himself to suffering. He is also willing for His adopted children to suffer.

Clearly we have, we do, and to the end of this age we will suffer. 2 Tim 3:12 says, “All who desire to live godly in the Anointed Jesus will be persecuted”. More than this, the bible says that He causes these things. In Isaiah 45:5 – 7 He says, “I am Yahweh, and there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity, I am Yahweh who does all these.”

Of His own Son, He tells us in Isaiah 53:10 – 54:1 “But Yahweh was pleased to crush him, putting Him to grief. If He would render Himself as a’ guilt offering, He will prolong days and the good pleasure of Yahweh will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as he will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong, because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors, yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors. Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have not borne. Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed, for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman, says Yahweh.”

One more example comes from Joseph’s story in Genesis. Joseph’s prophetic dreams, and Jacob’s love for him above his brothers enraged his brothers and they desired to kill him. When Jacob sent Joseph to his brothers who were pasturing their flock, Joseph traveled some distance to where they had been. Seeing that they moved on, he asked directions from a man and traveled to where they were. His brothers initially were going to kill him, but decided instead to throw him in a pit without food or water; then when a caravan of Ishmaelites came by they sold him into slavery and prepared false evidence to give their father so that Jacob would think that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Years later when his brothers were at his mercy and his prophetic dreams from God were fulfilled, they feared that their brother might take revenge against them, but Joseph graciously said, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen 50:19 – 20).

He does not say that what they meant for evil God used for good, or turned to a good purpose. He says that God meant it, that is intended it, for good. And when he says that God did this in order to “preserve many people alive,” did He refer simply to saving the people of Egypt and the surrounding nations from the famine? Well, if He did, then could not God have had the Ishmaelites come across Joseph when he was traveling to his brothers? Something deeper is going on here. Or, could not the man who gave him directions been the one to into sell Joseph into slavery? But God in His predetermined plan caused Joseph’s own brothers to commit this wicked act against him for a good purpose. None of this justifies the hearts of the brothers. They are still guilty of sin. The only thing that does justify them is the blood of Jesus. However, what this does do is point out that if Joseph had somehow been able to avoid suffering then he would actually have been outside of God’s will for him. That is the point. Sometimes God calls us to escape, as He told Paul to do in Acts 22. At other times He calls us to suffering, as Paul ultimately was killed for his faith. Again, the only way to discern the Lord’s will is to be in relation to Him.

I quoted Paul from Philippians, where he talked about his own suffering for Jesus. In what ways did Paul suffer? In 2 Corinthians 11:16 – 33 he lists off imprisonments, being beaten times without number, five times receiving 39 lashes, three times beaten with rods, once stoned, and three times shipwrecked. He also mentions an ongoing sense of danger throughout his travels, and an ongoing sense of concern for all of the local bodies of believers whom he knew. Yet his perspective on all of this in the same letter in which he listed them out was “momentary, light affliction [which] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). I have never suffered like him. Am I willing to? Would I? God help me if I don’t. God help any of us who are unwilling. Looking back at Philippians 3, might we even fail to attain to the resurrection and miss out on fellowship with Him? What if we teach others to refuse to suffer? What does the Lord say at the end of Matthew 5 – 7 about those who neglect to DO His commandments and who teach others the same?

God uses our suffering to advance His purpose, part of which is the refinement of the sufferers. Even Jesus, “learned obedience by the things which He suffered…” When we sidestep suffering we may be quenching the Spirit’s work of purification in ourselves.

God is working out His glorious plan through our suffering. He is suffering with us. We must respond in love by His Spirit, not returning evil for evil, but returning a blessing instead. We must strengthen the hands of the weary and bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of the Anointed.

I began writing about His creation of man and woman (them) equally (and jointly) as His image bearers, and with His suffering. I said that God makes no place for chauvinism in His kingdom, based on Genesis 2. There is more. According to Malachi, God hates divorce. According to Proverbs 30:21 – 23 the earth quakes and cannot bear up under the weight of a maidservant when she supplants her mistress; what about when a wife supplants her husband? God speaks against contentious men and women in the scriptures, that is, those who cause division for division’s sake, or for pride. There a number of “christian” organizations and people who on the basis of thoughts such as “no one should suffer” or “no wife deserves to be abused by her husband” will counsel women (or men) in such a way that leads them to divorce their spouse, or to take an ungodly headship over them. Of course it is sin for a man to abuse his wife, verbally or otherwise. But sinning against him is no solution. The “lesser of two evils” is still evil.

My great concern is that the fruit borne in a man when he mocks or strikes his wife, and the fruit borne in a woman who encourages other women to avoid suffering by evil methods such as divorcing her husband, taking her husband’s headship from him, and/or striving in opposition to him in various other ways, are both outgrowths of the same wicked seed head. That seed left unchecked, or worse even watered by the words of well meaning people, may grow into a root of bitterness against other men, even all men, certainly all men who speak harshly. Even One who speaks harshly in Love for the purpose of conviction and redemption, as He does many times in the gospels. If your God is only the Lamb and not the Lion, then how can you be worshipping Yahweh?

“Yahweh, Yahweh God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 33:6-7. Do you believe this? Do you have faith in Him? His heart is of peace. His anger is but for a moment, but His compassion is everlasting. His wrath is the necessary, righteous response to those who rebel against Him. Being enraged is another way that He suffers for us, as a result of making us and striving with us. His dream is peace, as Isaiah wrote in 27:2-3 “In that day, a vineyard of wine; sing of it! I, Yahweh am its keeper; I water it every moment. So that no one will damage it, I guard it night and day. I have no wrath.”

Sinfulness on the part of the abused is often actually encouraged by a simple admonition to “submit to your husband” without further clarification, and without further practical help. For one thing, this may cause her to sin because as I mentioned earlier, it is likely a sin for the wife to say nothing because she is not truly supporting her husband’s walk with the Lord. But she may be slow to speak to her husband as she begins by appealing first to Jesus. For another, it may be sin if she submits to her husband on a point where to submit to him is a sin against the Lord. The bible includes admonition to submit to the governing authorities, and also examples of where disciples of Jesus had to submit to God, rather than to man, when the governing authorities told them to do something that was a sin against God. Does a husband have authority over his wife that differs from the authority of a governor over his people in that his wife should actually sin against God in order to obey her husband? I do not think so. Having pointed this out, I must say that it is not necessarily a sin for me if someone abuses me. It is a sin for them to abuse me, but it is not a sin for me to be abused. Rather, if I suffer for His name, then it is a blessing to be counted worthy to suffer for His name. How should we respond to suffering? By seeking His will for us in the moment and in the situation at hand. We tend to react. God is proactive. He is not caught off guard by this. He has planned it out from the beginning. Let us trust in Him, lean on Him, abide in Him for sustenance.

What if by our enduring suffering, God preserves life? The life He preserved through Joseph was much more than just the physical lives of the people living in the region of Egypt at the time. That could have been done another way. The life He preserved was that of the Seed, being passed down generationally from Abraham to Mary. Preserved through a holy nation. Joseph’s brothers had to be cut to the heart and convicted of their sin, and the way God did this was to first cause their sin to well up to hatred and murder, to grieve their father whom they loved, and ultimately to bring them face to face with Joseph who lavished the wealth of nations on them, even after what they had done to him. The result of their conviction, their refinement, is eternal life and salvation for myriads.

Paul said “I am the greatest of sinners.” “I persecuted the ecclesia, even killed God’s people.” “Look at what I’ve done.” And look at what God did through him.

What if by NOT responding with divorce, with striking back, with anger and animosity, a wife might actually save her husband’s soul? Is he worth it? Are any of us? No. But Jesus deserves His Bride. And He will not allow Her to be missing one fragment of Her Body. And He has determined that truly repentant harlots like Rahab, unclean ones like Ruth and Mary Magdalene, and murderers like Saul of Tarsus are included.

If a particular shepherd of the sheep to whom a woman goes for counsel is incapable of helping, then he should not only seek God and His word for answers, but also other members of the Body. But most of us don’t live in a true, functioning Body, the Kingdom Life that we catch glimpses of in the new testament. We need to be seeking that Life with Jesus and with one another. This is the Life to which we have been called. It is our very purpose. Along the way, problems will be resolved, and in some cases simply disappear.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus. Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be Done, on earth as in heaven. Today. Here. Now. By You, among us, for Your great glory.

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Happiness Is the Lord!

Ira Stamphill says it right again.  Eliora liked the music best in this rendition.

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