Monday, October 17, 2016

"On Fire": Signs That You'll Be NOURISHED and CHERISHED (on the Front End)

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church. However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]."---Ephesians 5:25-33(AMPC)

Something that's a pet peeve of mine...

Is something I was reminded of this morning as I was looking for a lead picture quote for today's post. I was looking for a quote about the importance of a man nourishing and cherishing his wife and I found quite a few about the importance of couples nourishing and cherishing *each other*.

*That's NOT what the Scripture says*...

Something similar seems to happen A LOT in marriage. Even as it relates to how people approach Scripture. For instance, wives will say "I am not supposed to submit to my husband. We are to submit to *each other*." I get where they get that from, but the very definition of submission makes that entire concept...confusing, at best and God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).

Submission means "to give over or yield to the power or authority of another". Even after Adam and the Woman were led out of the Garden and consequences were given out, God himself said "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16--NKJV) Colossians 3:18(NKJV) says "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." In fact, nowhere in Scripture are husbands instructed to submit to their wives. God has given them the authoritative role in marriage from Day One. Wives---actually women, in general---are created to help. It's biblical: "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'" (Genesis 2:18--NKJV)

So where do folks get that from? Here:

Walk in Wisdom

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God."---Ephesians 5:15-21(NKJV)

This isn't speaking specifically to husbands and wives, though. If you check out the New King James Version of Ephesians 5, it starts out with the title "Walk in Love"---that is something *we all* are supposed to do. The New Living Translation breaks down, responsibly so, how this applies specifically to the relationship between a husband and his wife:

"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.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word."---Ephesians 5:21-26(NLT)

It might seem like semantics but trust me, I deal with a lot of couples who are in strife because they are not clear about their roles. Wives are trying to be the leaders. Husbands are not loving their wives as Christ loved the Church--nor trying to even learn how to do it. It's all a mess.

All because far too many people choose not to submit to GOD'S WORD about marriage...

A wife trying to lead the home or get her husband to submit to her is TOTALLY out of order...
So is a man who claims to love his wife yet does not nourish and cherish her.

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Nourish: to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to strengthen, build up, or promote

Cherish: to hold or treat as dear; feel love for; to care for tenderly; nurture; to cling fondly or inveterately to

An article that breaks down what all of this means shares these great points:

Now, we think of nourishment in physical terms. We provide nourishment for someone when we give him healthy food to eat. The word ektrepho carries that same meaning. But Paul expands on the idea. A man should not only nourish his wife by being a provider who makes sure there is healthy food for her to eat, but he should also nourish her soul. For his children, he nourishes them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. He knows that man does not live by bread alone...

Paul reminds husbands that we are quick to satisfy our own need for nourishment. We rarely neglect our own bodies. Our care for our wife's needs should be just as acute. We are to labor to provide nourishment for her body, and we are to strive to provide nourishment for her soul.

But a wife is not only to be nourished; she is also to be cherished. Once again Paul uses a unique word, thalpo. It shows up only one other time in the New Testament, in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. There, he reminds his readers that he and his fellow missionaries had "proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares (thalpo) for her own children" (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

A husband, then, is to tenderly care for his wife in the same way that a mother gently and tenderly cares for a new baby. As a father of five, I've had a lot of opportunity to observe the special bond that grows between a mother and her child. After each child was born, I would watch as Mary Ann spent hours caring for our new son or daughter. She could sit for what seemed like forever to me, stroking his hair with her hand, talking to him, reacting to every coo or every facial gesture the baby would make. Even in the middle of the night, when the child had awakened her from a few precious hours of rest, she would gently care for, nurse, and talk to her baby. Her regular routines were interrupted, but it didn't matter. Nothing would get in the way of caring for the new little life in our home.

That's what it looks like to cherish someone. The word literally means "to soften or warm with body heat." It means we make another person our priority relationship. We cherish our wives by providing them with a warm, safe, secure environment, where they will never doubt our love, our care, and our commitment.

Think of it this way. If I were to ask you to name your most cherished possession—the one you'd run into the house to save in a fire—you would begin to mentally sort through the things you own. You would quickly eliminate the things that are easily replaceable. If you can buy the same item at Walmart for under $10, it's not likely to appear on your cherished possession list.

You would slowly begin to narrow the list down to a few items. All of them would either be very expensive or even irreplaceable. There would also very likely be some kind of emotional attachment to the items on your list—something that tied them to a special time or a special person in your life. If you were finally able to narrow the list down to a single item, it would very likely be something you alone would find valuable. Your cherished possessions would be a unique part of your life.

That list of valued possessions gives us a taste of what it means to cherish our wife. She is highly valued. She is our priority. She is cared for. We ought to regularly reflect back to her how cherished she is. 

The Word doesn't instruct *wives* to do this...
Wives are to submit to and respect their husbands.

So yeah, we'll get into submission and respecting another time but...
If you have trouble respecting authority...

Another pet peeve of mine is *far too many single people act married in their relationships before they actually are*. Not just sexually (Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:9-10 & 16-20--Message) but emotionally too. It's not a single man's job/responsibility to treat his girlfriend as his wife---to grant her the privileges that come with taking that role/position in his life. However, it *is* a single gal's responsibility to discern (Proverbs 2) if he has the character to be a nourisher and cherisher once they are married.

That said...

A few days ago, I was led (Luke 12:12) to an article that can help to serve as a guidepost...
The title? "Nine Attributes of a Real Man". I'm just going to share the list. Feel free to click on the link to read all of it:

A man commits to following a greater authority.
He commits to sacrifice all else in the shadow of discipleship.
He commits to determined, joyful obedience.
He commits to spiritual discipline.
He commits to abide in the word of truth.
He commits to growth and production, especially spiritual fruit.
He commits to carry out God’s mission.
He commits to love others faithfully.

A HUGE MISTAKE that *far too many single women* make is thinking it is their job to turn some man they are interested in into a man of God. NOPE. Of course, people have the power to influence one another; that's why we need to be ever-cautious of the company that we keep (I Corinthians 15:33--AMPC). However, when a couple declare their marital vows before God and one another (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7), when they have sex (Genesis 2:24-25) and God joins them as husband and wife (Matthew 19:6), *there is a grace that's bestowed upon them that they don't have prior to marriage*. Until two people are husband and wife, spiritually they are brother and sister (which makes sexual sin all the more disturbing)---brother and sister who should be focusing on pleasing God (I Corinthians 7:32-34) and spiritually maturing (Hebrews 5:12-14) as individuals.

As this is transpiring, should two people catch one another's attention, "character inspection" should be a huge part of the focus. Praying and fasting (Matthew 17:20-21) in the process should be too.

See that's another problem with sexual sin...
It'll have you so lust-focused that you can't be spiritually--centered...
You won't be looking to see if a man has what it takes in order to spiritually lead you...
To properly nourish and cherish you.

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Did you peep how on that nine-point list, the word "commit" kept coming up? That a man of God is going to *commit* to the things of the Lord? More and more, I share with people that marriage is definitely not for the world---you have to honor God in order to respect the things he's made---and honestly, being simply a believer is not enough either. The Word tells us that it's DISCIPLES (John 8:31-32) who are Word-abiders. DISCIPLES are the ones who are self-deniers (Matthew 16:24). Ask any married couple who's been together for longer than 10 years and they'll tell you that a BIG part of what got them through the hard times was abiding in the Word and denying themselves. This season of singleness is a *great time* to learn more about what that means too!

No man is going to be ready on his wedding day to nourish and cherish you...
If he's not currently in the process of committing to God...

A man who submits to authority, obeys, shows fruit of spiritual growth (Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 12:33), is on a mission for God and has a heart for others? A man who loves God enough on the front end to not physically or emotionally partake in what doesn't belong to him until *after* God has brought he and his wife together? A man who is spiritually mature enough to know that helping you to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) means not violating your body? A man who encourages you to put---and keep---God before him and to become a whole single before thinking about being his wife? *This* is a man who is well on his way to being a beautiful nourisher and cherisher!

I have some wife friends whose husbands love them...
Yet the nourishing and cherishing leaves MUCH to be desired!

If you're in a relationship, *search the Scriptures*.
Pray about if you're seeing good signs or HUGE RED FLAGS.

You are a daughter of the Most High (Psalm 82:6)...
Nourishing and cherishing is something that you are *owed* in marriage.

Does "he" show signs of being this kind of man?
Please take heed.

Proverbs 12:4,