Marriage

26 Things I’ve Learned in 26 Years of Marriage

Tomorrow is my 26th wedding anniversary. My husband and I married on a lovely Tuesday evening between Christmas and New Years in a church bedecked with pink poinsettias. And six kids, several houses, and a few dogs later, here we still are, plugging away at this “‘til death do us part” thing. There have been a lot of “for better” times, and some “for worse” times. Days when we celebrated “for richer” and years when we survived “for poorer.” A few “in sickness” moments, but, praise God, we’ve mostly lived “in health.”

There’s a lot I didn’t know about living with a completely different person when I first said “I do,” but here are some things I’ve learned both in my own marriage, and from friends’ marriages, over the last twenty-six years.

1. This, too, shall pass.

It’s easy to look at one fight, one difficult time, and think, in the moment, “That’s it. This marriage is over,” but after a while, you realize this is just one tree in the forest of your marriage. At some point, things will calm down and you’ll be on the other side of it. Marriage is a cross country marathon, not a sprint on smooth pavement. Keep going.

2. “Not tonight, Dear…”

Every couple has to come to their own unique mutual agreement and understanding of each spouse’s wants and needs when it comes to sex. Coercion and manipulation are neither appropriate nor biblical, but neither is depriving each other. There are going to be times when you’re not in the mood for sex but your husband is. If lack of “the mood” is the only thing causing you to say no, say yes anyway, and do it joyfully and enthusiastically. Think of it this way- your husband probably isn’t always “in the mood” to go to work or take out the trash or help with the kids, but you want him to do those things anyway, with a happy heart, because he loves you. Marriage is about serving each other in all aspects of life, whether you’re in the mood at the moment or not.

3. Submit

Biblical submission is not, as secular feminists might have you believe, for weak women, but for strong, godly women. It takes much more strength to exercise self control and obey God’s word than to just do and say whatever you feel like doing and saying. Take it from a headstrong, opinionated gal who thinks she’s always right- it’s not easy, but biblical submission will make your marriage better, healthier, and more Christ-centered, and will grow you to be more like Jesus.

4. Some things are better left unsaid.

You don’t have to verbalize every thought that comes into your mind, especially when those thoughts are critical, whiny, argumentative, “I told you so,” constantly corrective, complaining, cutting, or in any way unchristlike. Sometimes your most shining moment will be keeping your mouth shut.

5. Forgive quickly

You won’t find a passage of Scripture that says it’s OK to hold a grudge or dangle your forgiveness over your husband’s head until he has groveled sufficiently. The Bible says we are to be kind and tenderhearted and to forgive the way Christ forgave us. Do you forgive your husband the way Christ forgives you?

6. Put your husband first.

After your relationship with Christ, your first love, loyalty, service, confidentiality, and time belong to your husband. Not your children, and not your mother, sister, or best friend. Your husband comes first.

7. Don’t undermine your husband with the kids.

God gives your husband the ultimate responsibility for and authority over your family. While you and he can and should privately discuss how to handle disciplinary issues with the children and other family situations which arise, he makes the final decision. Do not collude with the children, argue with your husband in front of them about his decisions, keep secrets from your husband, or otherwise attempt to circumvent his directives. Support him, submit to him, and present a united front.

8. Affirm your husband privately and publicly.

Women can practically turn complaining about their husbands into a competitive sport. Don’t go there. Would you like for your husband to sit around with his friends and complain about you? Don’t do it in a braggadocious way, but, as opportunities arise, let others hear you affirming your husband and thanking God for him. And be sure you do so when it’s just the two of you, too.

9. Don’t publicly shame your husband.

As Christians, we should always – privately and publicly – behave in a way that honors God. As married women that godly behavior will also honor our husbands. Don’t ever berate or belittle your husband in front of others (or in private, either), including on social media. Don’t behave in public in ways that would embarrass him. When others think about your relationship with your husband, you want them to think, “Wow, he’s really blessed!” not “Poor guy.”

10. Divorce is not an option.

This is the mindset with which couples should both enter marriage and handle normal¹ fights and difficulties. Do not bring the “D-word” out during an argument. God says marriage is for life. It is not disposable.

11. Pray for your husband and for yourself as his wife.

This is probably the most powerful thing you can do for your husband and your marriage. Pray for your husband’s walk with the Lord, situations he’s facing at work, weaknesses he’s struggling with. Pray that God will help you to be a godly wife, and that He will show you how best to support and encourage your husband. Want your husband to change in some way? Don’t nag, pray for him, and pray that God will help you to respond to your husband in a Christlike way.

12. You were always on my mind…

Don’t those little acts of thoughtfulness from your husband – unexpected flowers, doing the dishes, a love note – brighten your day and deepen your love for him? Your husband feels the same way. Cook his favorite meal, send him an occasional text letting him know you’re thinking about him, wear the lingerie he likes. Make him feel special and loved.

13. Extend grace.

Your husband is going to mess up. Often. So are you. Don’t turn his every mistake and sin into World War III. The Bible tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. Extend the same love and grace to him in his offenses that you want him to extend to you in yours.

14. He’s your husband, not your child.

Don’t speak condescendingly to your husband, order him around, or otherwise treat him like he’s one of your children. He’s not. Show him the respect, support, and love a godly wife is to give her husband.

15. Be on the same page, theologically, before marriage.

The Bible is clear that we are not to partner with unbelievers, and the most painful consequences for disobeying this command are often seen in marriages in which a Christian marries an non-Christian. But even if you both profess faith in Christ, it’s important to be in agreement on things like which denomination or church you’ll join and why, what the Bible says about salvation, men’s and women’s roles in marriage and the church, parenting, giving offerings, regular attendance, and other theological issues.

16. Admit when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.

If you’ve sinned against your husband, crucify that pride, admit it, and ask him to forgive you. And don’t forget to repent and seek God’s forgiveness as well.

17. You’re not your husband’s Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict your husband of his sin, not yours. Certainly the two of you should talk things out, and it’s OK to kindly and lovingly discuss how his sin affects you, but no amount of preaching at him or castigating him with Scripture will change your husband’s heart, so don’t try. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

18. God made you the helper, not your husband.

Every family operates differently when it comes to careers, childrearing, and household chores. Couples must reach a mutual agreement about who will carry out which tasks, and should help each other whenever the need arises. That being said, biblically speaking, God has placed wives in the role of helping their husbands, not the other way around. Your husband should not have to work all day and then come home, make supper, clean the house, and raise the children while you pursue hobbies or leisure activities. You both have responsibilities to take care of. Make sure you’re helping him take care of his by taking care of yours.

19. Thank God for your husband.

Don’t forget to thank God for blessing you with your husband. Especially when what you really want to do is hit him with the car. Pour your heart out to God about your anger, sure, but then start thanking God for all of your husband’s good qualities. You might be surprised at the way it changes your heart, your frame of mind, and your ability to forgive.

20. Take joy in the simple things.

Marriage is not a Hallmark movie, a jewelry store commercial, or a Carnival Cruise brochure. It’s just not, so don’t expect it to be. Enjoy just spending time talking, working on a project together, or doing chores side by side. Sometimes it’s not “He went to Jared,” but “We went grocery shopping,” that can bring the most joy.

21. Your husband can’t read your mind.

Your husband wants to do things for you and give you gifts that please you. If he asks which restaurant you want to go to, don’t say “I don’t care” if you do. Tell him. Don’t tell him whatever he gets you for your birthday will be fine and then pout because he didn’t get the gift your heart was set on. If he does something that bothers you, discuss it with him. Don’t make reading your mind a test of your husband’s love for you.

22. Don’t go behind your husband’s back.

Unless what you want is a husband who feels betrayed and doesn’t trust you. If he makes a decision, abide by it. If he asks you not to do something, don’t. If you think he’s wrong, discuss it with him privately, kindly, and lovingly. But, unless it conflicts with Scripture in some way, respect, support, and submit to your husband’s leadership and decisions.

23. Another man is not the answer.

You might go through some rocky times in your marriage. Confiding in or seeking comfort from another man will only make things worse or irreparable. Don’t be the foolish woman Proverbs 14:1 speaks of who “tears her house down with her own hands.” Another man is the source of more problems, not the fix for your current problems.

24. Help Him the way He needs to be helped

Your role in marriage is to be your husband’s helper. But sometimes your idea of how to help will be different from his idea of what’s helpful. Maybe you think his socks should be sorted by color while he prefers them organized categorically (dress socks, atheletic socks, etc.) Whenever possible, help your husband in the way he prefers to be helped, not the way you prefer to help him.

25. Your Husband is a valuable resource

God has given you a unique human being with his own background, perspective, education, experiences, and thought processes as a live-in resource. Take advantage of that gift! Trying to figure out how to handle a situation at work or at church? Wondering if you should move the couch across the living room or underneath the window? Attempting to master the art of grilling? Ask your husband for his advice or input. The old saying, “Two heads are better than one,” is true, and he might just wow you with a skill, talent or knowledge you didn’t know he had!

26. Perfection is an Unrealistic expectation

Social media, rom-coms, romance novels, other couples at church – sometimes it seems like everyone has the perfect life, the perfect marriage, the perfect husband. Don’t buy into that lie. Movies and books can afford to idealize – they’re fiction. And the real life husbands and couples you see in your newsfeed and on Sunday morning? Sure they might be doing well in an area you’re struggling with, but they’ve got problems in other areas. There’s no such thing as a perfect husband or marriage, so don’t compare yours to someone else’s. Be thankful for the strengths your husband has and the healthy aspects of your marriage, and pray about or work on those aspects that need godly growth.

God has been so gracious to my husband and me over the last two decades. I have often failed at many of the things on this list, while God has protected us from the others. I could probably list at least twenty-six more things, but it all boils down to this: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ, and love your husband the way you want him to love you. That’s the number one thing I’ve learned in the last twenty-six years, and I’m so grateful to God for sanctifying me through my marriage and blessing me with my dear husband.

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¹We can all think of exceptions and extraordinary circumstances to all of these points. This article pertains to generally healthy Christian marriages.
Top 10

Top 10 Articles of 2018

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists, the Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2018, and the top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2018. Here are my ten most popular non-Mailbag blog articles from 2018:

Christine Caine: Have No Regard for the Offerings of Caine

Unfortunately, Christine’s teachings and some of her actions do not meet even these basic biblical standards, and it is my sad duty to recommend that you not sit under her teaching for the following reasons…

Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue

The violation of God’s command that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures nor hold improper authority over men is a sin like any other. It is not a doctrinal issue in the same sense that other second and third tier doctrines are… 

Answering the Opposition:
Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

There are also occasional comments and messages from women who are disciples of the false teachers I warn against, who take me to task for doing so. The same unscriptural accusations are raised again and again against me and against others who take a biblical stand against false teachers and false doctrine. Here, in no particular order, are the most frequently raised objections to my discernment work and my answers to them…

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

And so the “emperor” of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and those who carry its train march proudly on, despite the cries of simple peasants and innocent little children crying at the top of our lungs, “The emperor is naked!” “There are issues that need to be addressed, here!” “Listen to us!”…

Women and False Teachers:
Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

There’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one. You’re the pastors. The elders. The husbands. The fathers. The ones responsible before God for leading your churches and your families in doctrinally sound spiritual growth. You’ve got to get this for the sake of the girls and women you lead…

 A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite male authors of Bible studies
and other great Christian books and resources…

 10 Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

False teachers. You can’t throw a rock out the window these days without hitting one. But are there any “good guys” out there who are getting it right? Discipleship, Bible study,and theological issues bloggers who rightly divide God’s word? You bet…

Five Reasons It’s Time to Start Exercising “Moore” Discernment

This is not a request for you to believe me or agree with my personal opinion. I’m asking you to take a discerning look at the evidence and compare with Scripture what Beth Moore is currently doing and teaching. If you do, I think it will be obvious to you that, whatever she may have taught in the past, something is seriously wrong now…

Going Beyond Scripture:
Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

Should she repent in these areas in which she has broken Scripture and align herself with biblical principles, she would have no bigger fan than I, and I would rejoice to be able to point Christian women to her as a doctrinally sound resource. Until that time, however, it saddens me to have to recommend that Christian women not follow Priscilla Shirer or any materials or activities from Going Beyond Ministries for the following reasons…

Leaving Lysa:
Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

For these reasons, plus her habitual mishandling of Scripture, unfortunately, I must recommend that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries(including any writers or speakers affiliated with Proverbs 31 Ministries)…

What was YOUR favorite article of 2018?

Mailbag, Top 10

Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2018

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists. Check out my top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2018 tomorrow. Here are my ten most popular Mailbag blog articles from 2018:

Potpourri (Calvinism, Baptism, Modesty…)

LT calls Calvinism heresy…my views on baptism…Why isn’t 1 Timothy 2:9 emphasized as much as v. 12?…responding to a rude e-mail…


MLM-ing Essential Oils at Church

I don’t care how much of a go-getter saleswoman you are, there are some lines you just don’t cross. And I can’t believe I’m actually having to explain to grown up, adult people that you don’t go church hopping to make sales and recruit people to work for you…


False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Are there any CCM groups, artists, or songs I should avoid?
Can you recommend any specific doctrinally sound artists or groups?


What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit…


BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

While I totally support the idea of delving deeply into the Scriptures with other women, there are a few of aspects of BSF that concern me… 


Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not…


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Lisa Harper, Karen Kingsbury, Rebekah Lyons, Raechel Myers, Shauna Niequist, Jennifer Rothschild, Susie Shellenberger, Sheila Walsh, Amanda Bible Williams


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

Jill Briscoe, Lauren Chandler, Tony Evans, Rachel Hollis, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Brenda Leavenworth, Leslie Ludy, Bianca Olthoff, Wellspring Group, Jen Wilkin


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

Jennie Allen, Lisa Bevere, Rachel Held Evans, Heather Lindsey, Ann Graham Lotz, Kelly Minter, Nancy Leigh (DeMoss) Wolgemuth


What did you think of Beth Moore’s “A Letter to My Brothers”?

If I had to sum up this article in one word, it would be “vague.” I have more questions than answers after reading it…What, specifically, is the church supposed to do in response to this nebulous accusation of misogyny?…


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christmas

Merry Christmas 2018!

 

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re having a lovely holiday with family and friends and that Christ is blessing you with rest and worship.

I’m taking some time off for a couple of weeks to spend time with my own family, but I have a few articles pre-scheduled that I hope you’ll enjoy. One I’m very excited about is coming up on December 31 – my annual, updated round up of tons of Bible reading plans. I’m looking forward to trying some of them myself!

A few “housekeeping” items as we finish up the year…

🎉 If my blog and resources have been helpful to you and you’d like to bless my family with a gift, please click here. Your kindness and generosity are greatly appreciated.

🎉 If you don’t already follow one or more of my social media pages, come join in the fellowship! Here are all of my social media links.

🎉 If you’re a little behind on our Imperishable Beauty Bible study, don’t stress! There won’t be a new lesson until January 9 (tentatively), so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up!

🎉 In early February 2018, I changed the URL of the blog from MichelleLesleyBooks.com to MichelleLesley.com. For the past year, anyone who has tried to reach me through the “books” web address has been automatically redirected to the “non-books” address. That auto-redirect is expiring pretty soon, and the “books” address will no longer work, so make that change if you haven’t already. Also, if if you’ve been so kind as to link to my blog or any of my articles – pre-February 2018 (with the “books” address) – on your own web site, the links will need to be changed to the new URL or they won’t work.

🎉 Need a speaker for a women’s conference, retreat, or other event? Looking for a guest for your podcast? I’ve got slots available on my calendar for 2019. Click here for more information.

Thank you so much for your loyal readership and the kind words so many of you have encouraged me with. You are such a blessing to me, and it is my honor to serve you through writing and resources. May we all strive to please our Lord Jesus Christ together in 2019, and may this be the year of His coming.

Christmas

Pondering God’s Promises

Originally published December 9, 2016

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But Mary treasured up all these things,
pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Ponder. It isn’t a word we use very often, is it? It means to spend some time in reflection, considering, thinking deeply about things. Christmas is a time for pondering, and no one knew that better than Mary.

Luke 2:19 finds Mary, Joseph, and Jesus alone in the stable, at the culmination of a whirlwind of mind-boggling events.

Think about all Mary had been through in the last few months…

  • After 400 years of silence from God, between the close of the Old Testament and, now, the opening of the New, an angel showed up – a staggering event in and of itself – and brought her a nearly incomprehensible message. Mary was going to be the mother of God’s promised Messiah. And that’s not all. She would be the only woman ever to conceive by the Holy Spirit.
  • At some point Mary had to break the news to her parents that she was pregnant. Were they godly people of faith, as quick to believe as Mary had been? Or, did Mary fear they might be skeptical and shocked?
  • Next to hear the news was her betrothed, Joseph. Incredulous, his first thought was to obtain a quiet divorce. But God sent another angel and reassured him personally.
  • How did Mary’s friends, loved ones, and community react to her pregnancy? Did she have to endure long months of whispers, stares, and gossip? Was she in danger of stoning or other punishment as prescribed by Levitical law?
  • A visit to Elizabeth’s house yielded even more amazement as Mary’s cousin related her own incredible pregnancy story.
  • Next on the agenda was a long, uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem and the pain and danger that came with first century childbirth.
  • Before she was anywhere near ready for visitors, the shepherds arrived and regaled the little family with their fantastic story of a sky full of angels proclaiming the birth of the Savior to them.
  • And to top it all off, lying in her arms was a brand new, precious baby- her first. All of us who are moms remember the weightiness, and sometimes, panic, of holding our first baby. “What do I do first? How will I take care of this child? What if I mess it all up?” And Mary’s first child was God incarnate. King of the universe. Savior of the world. Think she felt a tad inadequate?

Mary’s had quite a year, to put it mildly. And now the shepherds have left and she has a moment to catch her breath and reflect on all these events that led up to God fulfilling His promises to her, to Israel, and to the whole world. The promise of the Messiah- Jesus.

And just as Mary pondered the fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ, Christmas time is an oh-so-appropriate time for us to ponder the promises He has made to us in Christ.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know exactly what God has promised us. If you peruse the books at your local Christian retailer or flip on your TV or radio to many of the “Christian” stations, you’ll hear all sorts of things that God has supposedly promised us, things like: a bigger house, a better job, healing from every disease, that you’ll be able to hear God’s voice speaking to you, miracles, restored relationships, a better life…

But does God really promise us all these things?

How do we find out what God has really promised us? We go straight to the source- God’s word. It is the only truly trustworthy source for knowing what God has promised us.

But there are a lot of promises in the Bible. Some of them are for us today and some of them aren’t. For example, did God promise you that you would conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Messiah? No. That promise was only for Mary. Did God promise the United States Army that if they would go march around an enemy city and blow some horns that the city walls would fall down and they would conquer that city? No. That was for only for Joshua and Israel, and only that one time.

We learn which promises are for us by being good students of God’s word. By picking up our Bibles (and I would urge you, the best way to learn God’s word is to study God’s word, not somebody else’s book). We pick up our Bibles and study them in context, in a systematic way, rightly dividing the Word of truth, paying attention to who God is talking to in each passage.

So, as it’s Christmas time and we reflect back on the Christmas story – maybe even pondering some of the same things that Mary did – what are some of the things God has promised us in Christ?

God has promised us forgiveness from our sin in Christ

When the angel came to visit Joseph and told him to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, the angel said:

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Romans 5:8 says:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

And 1 John 1:9 says:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The Bible says that all of us are dirty, rotten, wretched sinners. None is righteous, no not one. And since all of our good deeds – never mind the bad ones – are like filthy rags, there’s no way we could ever hope to make up for our sin by being a good person or doing good things.

And God, in His beautiful mercy and grace, doesn’t even require us to try. He reached down into our filth and sent His own Son to take the death penalty you and I deserve for our sin. He absorbed God’s wrath toward us, so that we can stand before God clean if we’ll just repent and trust what Christ did for us on the cross. God promises to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west, to drop them in the depths of the sea, and to remember them no more. God promises us forgiveness in Christ.

God promises us trials and persecution

Doesn’t sound very Christmasy, does it? But perhaps we’ve forgotten the part of the Christmas story in which Mary and Joseph had to take Jesus and flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill Him.

And just as Jesus faced persecution and hardship, we can expect to face it too. Second Timothy 3:12 tells us:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

And John 16:33 says:

In this world you will have tribulation.

Just as Herod hated Christ, the world will hate us because of Christ. Just as Christ suffered because He was born into a broken and sinful world, so, we will suffer various trials and tribulations. In this world, you will have tribulation. But is that the end of that verse? No – praise God! – it is not.

The remainder of John 16:33 says “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The trials and tribulations and persecutions we face are all just light and momentary afflictions, because Christ has overcome the world- and our hope is not in this world.

One day, we will shuffle off this mortal coil and see Christ Jesus face to face. And when we look upon the beautiful face of Christ, if we even remember the troubles of this world, we won’t complain or whine or ask, “Why did You allow me to go through those things?” or “Why didn’t you give me my best life now?”  

We’ll say:

It was worth it.

And in the meantime, God promises to walk through that suffering with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He says, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the age.” God promises us trials and persecution, but He promises to walk through them with us.

God promises us joy

When the angel appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ, he said:

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“All the people.” That’s us, too! When we think about the good news of the gospel, it should bring us great joy.

Galatians 5:22 tells us that joy is part of the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit indwelling us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…

First Peter 1:8 says:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.

And why is that joy “inexpressible and filled with glory”? Why is it joy that will never fade away? Because our joy is found in Christ: who He is and what He has done for us. Joy isn’t found in temporary circumstances- when you’re healthy, when you have a lot of money in the bank, when your kids are all successful, when your job is going well. Those things can all be taken away in the blink of an eye.

But if your heart, your mind, and your life have been transformed by the good news of the gospel, you can have joy even in the midst of devastation and heartbreak, because Christ isn’t going anywhere. He will always hold you and keep you and comfort you. He hears you when you pray and does what’s best for you. He takes care of you. He allows you to draw close to Him and discover more and more about Him through the study of His word. He gives you fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

That is the kind of joy God promises us in Christ.

God promises to provide for us

I wonder if Mary, while she was pondering all of these amazing things, reflected on the many ways God had provided for her. He provided a husband to take care of her, a cousin to encourage her, protection throughout her pregnancy, and a place to stay in Bethlehem.

God promises to provide for us, too. Philippians 4:19 says:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

And Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

God is a good and loving Father. He knows all of our needs even better than we do. He wants us to work hard and ethically, make wise financial decisions, and be good stewards of the resources He has given us, but He wants us to trust Him and depend on Him – not a paycheck or a job or insurance or a savings account – to take care of us.

God provided manna in the wilderness every day. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. And He has promised to provide for us.

Those are just a few of the wonderful things God has promised us. One of the great things about His promises is that there are so many of them. I could go on and on about God’s promises of peace, contentment, hope, love, Heaven, justice…

But I’d like to close with my favorite promise. It’s the promise that is foundational to all of God’s other promises:

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All of God’s promises from Genesis to Revelation are fulfilled in Christ. God keeps His promises, and He keeps them in Christ.

As Mary pondered all the things God had promised her about Jesus, she didn’t have to wonder if they were true or not. She had seen them come true with her own eyes.

How can we know that God keeps His promises to us in Christ? Because He proved it to us. He backed up His word with action:

Jesus Christ- the second Person of the Trinity, creator and ruler of the universe, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the prince of Heaven, worshiped by angels, all powerful, all mighty, all knowing, worthy of all glory, honor, and praise – did not consider these things as things to be grasped or held tightly to.

But He emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Born, not into wealth, power, prestige, or position; not into a mansion or a palace, but born to plain, simple, anonymous people. And in humility, for most of His years, He lived a plain, simple, anonymous life. Resisting every temptation in thought, word, and deed, that He might become the perfect sacrifice for our sin.

And in the fullness of time, He was despised and rejected by men. Subjected to a kangaroo court, he was tried and convicted for crimes he did not commit, and sentenced to death- even death on a cross

Harsh, sinful men took Jesus out and smashed a crown of thorns down on His head. They mocked and scorned Him. They pulled His beard out. They pummeled Him with their fists. And then they whipped Him nearly to death.

They laid the rough, splintery cross beam across Jesus’ bruised and bloodied shoulders and led Him in humiliation through the streets of His beloved Jerusalem, outside the city gates, to be executed like a common criminal.

Those evil men used the very hands Jesus Himself had knit together in their mothers’ wombs to reach down, pick up hammers, and drive spikes through wrists and feet of their Creator.

And Jesus hung there on that cross for hours in excruciating pain to to endure the holy, just, and righteous wrath of God toward our sin, to take the punishment that we deserve- and He did not.

Later that day, while Mary mourned, and the disciples scattered, and Satan thought he had finally conquered the God he hated, they took Jesus’ bloody, broken body down off the cross, laid him in a cold, dark, lonely cave, and rolled a stone across the opening.

Friday…

Saturday…

But Jesus didn’t stay there, did He?

On that bright, beautiful, first Easter Sunday, Jesus left behind the sting of the grave and the bonds of death, and He walked out of that tomb conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave FOREVER.

FOREVER.

And He did it for you, and He did it for me. And any God who goes to those lengths for you and for me can be trusted to keep His promises. ALL of His promises.

God’s word is true, ladies- all of it. God can be trusted- He proved it in Christ. You can stake your life on His promises. You can stake your eternity on His promises. 

Ponder that.