Leave room for the Holy Spirit

The other day, a relative said some things about a person I love that I really found hurtful.  My first instinct was to emotionally withdraw from that person…but that’s a dysfunctional behavior I’m trying to end.  So, I started to tell that person what I really thought about their comments!  Thank God, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me.

You see, sometimes God wants us to confront someone who is sinning against us or doing something wrong.  But other times, God wants us to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the convicting in that other person’s heart, especially if that person is a believer.  In John 16:7-8, Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”   Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, and he explained that one of the Spirit’s jobs is to convict people of sin.

What I’m learning is that I need to pause and consult God when someone is doing something that wounds me or bothers me.  I need to ask God for direction.  Does God want me to respectfully and lovingly confront that person, or does God want me to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the confronting. 

Back to my story. When God stopped me from laying into my relative the other day and I decided to leave the “confrontation” up to the Holy Spirit…that relative actually came to me and apologized within a few hours. Today’s question for you:  Do you pause long enough to get guidance from God before reacting?

Finding hope when life is hard

We’re all a bit anxious right now…some are even downright fearful.  How will we make it through skyrocketing inflation that’s draining our bank account?  Will I be one of the people who gets seriously ill from covid-19?  Are we on the verge of World War 3?  And, if you’re not worried about that, then there are a myriad of other things that might be stealing your joy and your hope.  Perhaps your marriage is falling apart or your kids are making poor decisions. 

The truth is that, until we get to heaven, we will all experience tough times here on earth.  And of course, Satan loves to pile on by whispering negative, hopeless thoughts into our minds when he sees that we’re struggling.  We tend to start reciting a list of complaints and fears…about people in our life, health problems, finances, the way we look, and on and on.  Instead of reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us, our facial expression portrays “woe is me”.

For a believer, that’s ridiculous!  If you’ve made Jesus your Lord, you have his protection and power at your disposal.  Your prayers are powerful!  James 5:16  “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective”.  And even if your prayers aren’t answered EXACTLY how you think God should, you can trust Him to redeem every hardship in your life.  I love what He tells me in Psalm 103:4 “He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  When life gets discouraging…when anxiety starts eroding your hope…bring your concerns to Jesus and relax into his strong arms.  

I grasp hope and peace when I choose to trust in Jesus.  He is at work!  His ways are perfect.  Seek His perspective on all that’s happening. Ask him to help you understand what he’s doing in this challenging moment.  Ask him to redeem your seemingly hopeless situation.  He’s so creative!  He’s working behind the scenes right now. 

Resist the urge to rescue him

True confession:  Often in the past, I found myself wanting to jump in and “fix things” for my husband.  Sometimes, I did this because I feared his mood would grow ugly if I didn’t take steps to improve his circumstances.  Sometimes, I did this because I feared that his ministry could stumble if he didn’t do things the “correct” way.  Sometimes, I did this because I thought his relationship with our kids would suffer if I didn’t intervene.  Sometimes, I did this because I feared…..

Hmmm.  When it comes right down to it, fear is the common feeling behind all of the times I jumped in to act as my husband’s savior.  Unfortunately, fear usually causes us to act unwisely.  Proverbs 29:25 says “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Here’s something to ponder.  Every time you jump in to “fix” things for your husband, you actually prevent your man from turning to God for help.  Every time you try to prevent your husband from feeling any discomfort or pain, you might be preventing him from changing unhealthy behavior and finally turning to God!   Resist the urge to be your husband’s savior.  There is only one perfect savior anyway.  His name is Jesus Christ.

Signs husband has online problem

I believe one of Satan’s most successful schemes to destroy marriages and families is….pornography.  Glancing once or twice at porn might seem relatively harmless, but it can rapidly become an addiction.  Once a person becomes addicted, they find they need to move to progressively more perverse types of porn in order to achieve the same arousal.  Then, even perverse porn no longer gives the same satisfaction and they often end up acting out in real life situations, sometimes ending up with prostitutes or same-sex encounters.   Marriages are torn apart in the process.  Plus, of course, your husband looking at another woman’s naked body is not okay with God!  Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, “If anyone looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

We can’t be ignorant to this pornography epidemic in America.  Even among Christians, HUGE numbers of both men and women are ensnared by habitual porn use.  In fact, a survey of pastors done back in 2001 revealed that almost 40% say pornography is a struggle for them!  As wives, we need to be alert to the signs that our husbands could be addicted to pornography.  Here are some common signs of habitual porn use:

  • Your husband no longer seems interested in having sex with you
  • Your man is becoming rough during sex or wants you to engage in perverse sexual acts
  • Your husband seems to be on the internet a lot, especially when you are out of the room
  • Your husband is very secretive and seems to be avoiding straight answers about activities

If your husband shows some or most of these signs, you may need to lovingly address the possibility of a pornography problem with him.  Keep in mind your husband is not the enemy, and if you make him feel like he is your enemy, he won’t feel safe to discuss this problem with you.  Be gentle, loving, and respectful, but DO address this issue.  Take action to fight for your marriage!

How to refresh your weary soul

Are you feeling weary, discouraged or burdened?  Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated with others or even yourself.  This remedy might seem strange, but God says that when we meditate on His principles and begin applying them in our lives, our souls will be refreshed!  Psalm 19:7-8 says “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.  The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Maybe your soul is weary or discouraged because you’ve been trying to handle difficult people and circumstances with your own wisdom.  Maybe it’s time to search out God’s wisdom instead.  For instance, if you are depressed about your husband’s continuing verbal abuse toward you and your children, maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for dealing with someone who is sinning against you.  You might want to read Matthew 18:15-17.  

Perhaps you’re dealing with a rebellious child who isn’t responding to your explanations about why he or she should listen to you.  Maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for molding your children into people of character.  You might want to read Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” 

3 keys if asking husband to change

If your husband has an addiction or often engages in some kind of destructive or sinful behavior, you have 2 choices.  Choice # 1: You can wring your hands in despair and do nothing…which means that his disturbing behavior will likely continue, and your heart will slowly grow resentful and cold toward your husband. That choice will slowly kill your marriage!  Choice #2:  You can courageously talk to your husband and request him to change his behavior (or get help in changing his behavior).  From personal experience, I highly recommend choice #2!

Here are 3 keys that are especially important if you choose to address this issue with your husband.

  1.  Be very specific about what you’re asking your husband to do in order to change his behavior.  For instance, if he has a drinking or pornography problem, he will almost certainly need help in disentangling himself from this addiction.  So search out helpful 12-step programs or reputable counselors in your area ahead of time and tell him that in order for you guys to keep moving forward in your marriage, you need him to attend a specific number of sessions over a specific period of time.  I would certainly recommend that he attend some kind of program/counselor at least once a week for at least 6 months.  Addictions and other sinful patterns are hard to break. He will need sustained help.
  2. Expect your husband to be unhappy about this request!  Many husbands will try to blame you or other circumstances for their personal problems.  Many husbands will also attend a program or see a counselor for one or two sessions and then say “it isn’t helping me”.  That’s usually just an excuse.  Don’t accept that answer, unless they are willing to try a different program or counselor right away.
  3. Balance your request with words of hope and encouragement.  Proverbs 18:21 says Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Remember, you’re asking your husband to do some very hard work, so speak life-giving words to him. Tell him that you see good qualities in him, and that you will do anything you can to help him on his journey to break free from addiction

2 tips for disappointed wives

If you find yourself disappointed with your husband, ask yourself this question:  Is he sinning against me or am I just disappointed with him?  If he is actually sinning against you (looking at porn, being abusive, drinking excessively, etc), then consult with God and perhaps a godly mentor to determine if you should respectfully confront your husband and establish boundaries, using the Biblical model laid out in Matthew 18:15-17. 

However, if you’re simply disappointed with your husband because he’s not meeting your expectations, then try these two things:  1) Simply and clearly let him know what you desire….because he is not a mind-reader!  It’s so funny how we expect our husbands to meet all our needs and desires because “he should just know”.  Lol  Well, guess what?  He doesn’t “just know”.  Sometimes, you need to actually tell him what you’re hoping for and what your expectations are.

2) If he still doesn’t fulfill your desires and expectations, take a moment and remind yourself that he can’t be perfect and he can’t perfectly meet all your needs!  Now, if someone were to ask us if we expect our husbands to be perfect, we would answer “of course not!”, and yet, at a subconscious level, most of us DO expect our men to be perfect. We pretty much expect them to be Jesus!  It’s time to let them off that hook.  After all, God makes it clear in Psalm 53 “there is no one who does good, not even one”. 

So, maybe it’s time you stop expecting your man to be perfect in every way. How about, instead, you decide to be thankful for the good things about him?  In fact, every time I started to get disappointed with my own husband in years past, I learned to stop and begin to list the things that he was doing right.  This is what my new internal dialogue sounded like:  “He works hard to provide for me.  He doesn’t drink or drug. He has stopped looking at porn.  He reads the Bible every day. Wow!  I’m not so disappointed anymore!

If you’re in the pit of despair…

In your marriage and in all your relationships, you will face challenges.  In response to those challenges, we often wring our hands in despair, get mad at God, sink into depression, lash out at people around us, get really grouchy, and on and on.  We act as if we’re surprised that we’ve encountered heartache and trials.  Well, here’s a news flash for you.  Trouble is normal and to be expected.  After all, Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble“.  Drat.

However, God has a plan to do something wonderful in the middle of our challenges…if we decide to move out of despair and self-pity.  God wants to teach us something.  He doesn’t waste any opportunities for our personal growth!  In the middle of our suffering, God gives us the choice to either wallow in depression or contemplate what He might be trying to teach us.  Romans 5:3-5 sums this up well: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

The choice is yours.  You can stay mired in despair if you want to, or you can anticipate a time of great personal growth and shaping of your character.  Could God be teaching you patience, or perhaps teaching you to be courageous in confronting abuse, or maybe teaching you to help and comfort others who share a similar heartache?  Maybe the Lord simply wants to teach you to draw even closer to Him and to trust in Him completely.

Maybe the Lord is planning to answer your prayers in a way that will blow your mind!  When I’m in a time of discouragement or challenge, I like to give my concern to God in prayer and then encourage myself by saying this…”I can’t wait to see what God is going to do!!!”

Are you multiple-choicing Jesus?

I don’t know about you, but I fall into a really crazy and unproductive pattern when I seek God for advice and direction.  I intend to be a good listener, but instead of quieting myself and really straining for God to speak to me through his Holy Spirit, I keep….talking!  In fact, one second after I ask God the question “what should I do about …..?”, I start mulling over the options.  My thoughts start ricocheting in my head and after a few minutes, I feel like I’ve boiled down the choices to 3 or 4 options for God to choose from. Yikes! 

The other day I found myself doing this again.  This time, however, I heard God speak a word of correction (or what some might call rebuke!).  I heard him say “Why are you multiple-choicing me?”  He reminded me that He doesn’t need me to lay out options from which to choose.  He reminded me that, often, his answer or direction is not even listed among my multiple-choice options!  I heard him whisper to my spirit, “What if my answer is “e” and you have only given me A-D from which to choose?”

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that I need to do less talking and more listening. This is the essence of James 1:19  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”

By the way, one tip that has helped me quiet my thoughts so I can actually hear the Lord’s whisper of guidance is this:  Close your eyes and envision being with the Lord. (I like to envision walking beside him in a beautiful meadow next to a quiet stream).  Then, while your mind is occupied with that vision, ask your question.  Within a few moments, I usually sense Him whispering a word to me, or giving me a vision, or bringing a Bible verse to mind that will guide me.

3 Bible verses that heal insecurity

Most women are plagued by insecurity.  As a result of our insecurity, we end up putting up with rude or abusive behavior from others.  Our insecurity leads up to covet what other women have.  Our insecurity prompts us to put other people down so we look better in comparison.   When we are drowning in insecurity, we tend to expect a man to be the “answer”.  We seek and catch a husband and then expect him to make us feel better about ourselves by constantly telling us that we’re beautiful, desirable, smart, funny, intelligent, etc.   However, husbands are imperfect themselves, and something could happen to take them away from you!  Therefore, a husband can’t be a reliable source of security for you.

I believe we would benefit by frequently meditating on 3 particular Bible verses.  They are great reminders of how God sees us and who He is to us.  The first one is a reminder that He loves us and even delights in us!  This verse portrays the picture of a loving father tenderly cradling his daughter in his arms.  Here is the verse.  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.”   Close your eyes and picture God smiling at you as he holds you.  Hear him whispering those words to you.  Ah. So good. 

The second verse reveals that God is our loving father, so even if your own parents have let you down, God will remain faithful!  Psalm 27:10  Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.   God will never leave you!  This makes me feel so much more secure.  And the third verse reveals God as our husband and protector.  Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name.  Wow! The maker of heaven and earth, the commander of heaven’s army of angels is your husband.  Relax.  He will take care of you.  Yes!

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