HEAD'S UP TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO CONTINUOUSLY COMMENT ON THE LENGTH OF THESE PIECES...I HEAR YOU, BUT I AM NOT OUT TO PRODUCE "SPIRITUAL SNIPPETS".Â IT'S MORE LIKE A STUDY SO THAT PEOPLE WILL READ THESE AND THEN GO AND STUDY FOR THEMSELVES.Â I AM AT PEACE AND I AM AWARE. THANKS. :-)
"Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respectsher husband."---Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)
Respect: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability; deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment; the condition of being esteemed or honored; a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship; favor; partiality.
"Marriages are made in heaven and consummated on earth."---John Lyly
"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave."---Martin Luther
There's nothing like grocery shopping when you're hungry. Suddenly, everything looks good. Not only that but, at least from my personal experience, you tend to go for what tastes good rather than what's actually healthy for you (which are usually ingredients that you don't "see"). That's why many health experts recommend that you go on a full stomach. When you're not hungry, you tend to be more discerning.
I think that's one of the main reasons why God wants women to be whole as singles (I Corinthians 7:24) before entertaining the concept of having a lifelong mate. So many women desire to be joined to their husband, "starving" for what they think a husband will bring them, that they too end up going for what appeases their physical appetite rather than their spiritual souls.
"Honey, he's gotta be fine."
"He's gotta have (lots of) money."
(And my personal testimony...and semi-stronghold), "He's gotta be able to hold it down." (Read between the lines, saints.)
Oh, but what does the Word say to all of these things?
"For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world."---I John 2:16 (NKJV)
Now, TRUST ME, I'm not saying that these requests are necessarily "wrong", but that's just the point: they should be requests and not demands because for many of us, wanting these things are not really about knowing what it takes to make a spiritual union like marriage work. It's simply the hunger of our flesh (whether it's due to our low self-esteem, our spiritual/biblical ignorance about the purpose of marriage, our lack of faith, the influence of pop culture, our generational curses, the pressure of our friends, etc.) that's speaking out.
As I was praying about my own issues in this area, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) led me to James 1:4 (NKJV):
"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
I believe that was God's way of saying, "Stay out of the 'husband grocery store' so that I can fill you; so that I can equip you to 'shop' wisely." (Uh, just because a man tells you that you are "the one" doesn't automatically make him right nor does it put you in a position where you have to accept his offer. A lot of men who are "mate shopping" are just as hungry...just as non-discerning.)
And since the Bible tells us that a natural man cannot discern the things of the Spirit (I Corinthians 2:14), since marriage is a spiritual union (Matthew 19:6), AND since the flesh and spirit are constantly lusting against one another (making it hard for many to make the right mate decisions at times...obviously---Galatians 5:16-17), I asked God to provide me with some pointers on how to "shop" (to look for something with the intention of acquiring it) wisely. (All of my "he who finds" friends, I encourage you to look up the definitions of "find"...it's quite revelatory!)
Amazingly, the first thing that he brought to my remembrance was not scripture, but two scenes from two movies, and a line that a friend of mine spoke in her wedding. One scene was from the movie, "Brown Sugar". Sanaa Latham's character was a writer who was engaged to a FINE, RICH man. However, he never...well, rarely, read her work. Her best (male) friend, on the other hand, could quote it verbatim.
Now, I know a big part of that was for me especially because I am a writer. Not only that, but my top love language (out of Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch and Acts of Service) is Words of Affirmation. I already know, from the depths of my soul, that the man God has for me will be interested in my writing gift. I have dated some men who have said, "Girl, I don't have time to read all of that" or "If you would shorten it, maybe I would get around to it." I have also dated men who would call to tell me how much the enjoyed a certain devotional or article I wrote. Now which guys do you think I gravitated to more? My point? Well, there are two...the guy God has for you will be interested in your gifts/talents and I believe that he will speak your love language(s) even before you marry him.
How do I know? Because a BIG PART OF MARRIAGE is about communication. Someone who only speaks French that marries someone who is only fluent in Spanish, while of course they "can" get married, in doing so, it would definitely make things very challenging because they don't speak one another's language. (Which is why it would cause me to wonder if they are getting married for the external more than the internal, and we've already addressed that not being a good idea.)
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that I will marry a man who is a Words of Affirmation (my second being Physical Touch), speak-to-me-that-kind-of-way person, but it will mean that we both will be open, willing, and active in the areas of speaking love in a way that makes us both feel...well, loved. And, it won't take a lot of drama for it to happen because showing mutual love, in a way that we both understand it, will be a daily priority.
The second film was "P.S. I Love You". The storyline of the film is a little more bizarre, but what I loved about it was that her husband wanted her to live her fullest life---even outside of their relationship. Proverbs 12:4 says that an excellent wife is the crown of her husband. When a king wears a crown, it is a symbol of sovereignty...it is something that he earns for accomplishing a great achievement. Remember me referencing a line that a friend spoke on her wedding day? She told her husband, "You demand and celebrate that I be myself." (Beautiful!)
Queens, a man who is your husband will not find your identity in only being his wife. He will realize that your gifts will be what he needs to bring favor to who he is...what he does. (Proverbs 18:22) The great achievement of any husband is to have a wife who is happy...who feels like she is understood and honored (I Peter 3:7)...who believes that her covering will give his very life for her if need be (Ephesians 5:25)...who knows her man is not bitter towards her (hard to bear; grievous; distressful; causing pain; piercing; stinging; resentful or cynical; proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity---Colossians 3:19)...who has a husband who loves her as his own body (which is why you should pay very close attention to how a man takes care of himself---Ephesians 5:28)...AND THIS ONE IS REALLY KEY...who knows she has a man who can trust her with ALL of who he is: his secrets, his vulnerabilities, his strongholds, his family history, his vices...ALL OF IT. (Proverbs 31:11) If something in you feels like a guy that you are dating has another side, pay close attention to that. God gave us all the ability, not to snoop, but to investigate. (2 Timothy 1:7) In order to prove yourself trustworthy, he has to step out there and trust you. It's hard for us to have an intimate relationship with God without trust. The same applies to an intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex.
I don't know about you, but all that alone provided me with some clearer direction (Proverbs 3:6) than I had before. And yet, God wasn't through. He also gave me with seven signs, based on seven men in the Bible, to use as my mate guide.
HE WILL BE A PRAYER. Now, it's deeper than just "Now I lay me down to sleep..." A godly man communicates with God in a way to where he KNOWS God's voice. The example that God led me to was Abraham. When God gave him a new name, which is always the sign of a new purpose, (from Abram to Abraham), he knew it. (Genesis 17:5) When God did the same for Sarah (from Sarai to Sarah), he knew it. (Genesis 17:15) When God told him that even though his wife was barren, they would bare a son, he knew it. (He questioned it a bit, but knew God said it---Genesis 17:16-17) Queens, this one is key because a godly man will be able to discern when a miracle is one the way...he won't look at the circumstances, but God's word to him concerning them. When Abraham's friend, Abimelech and his family were sick and Abraham prayed for their healing, they were healed...and he knew it. (Genesis 20:7) When God told him to kill Isaac and then when God changed his mind, he knew it. (Genesis 22:1-19) This instance was a sign that his faith was strong...that he put God above all else. Queens, who don't want, nor do we deserve (Matthew 7:6) a man who doesn't communicate with God; not just speaks to him, but also listens. A good husband has a CONSISTENT and EFFECTIVE prayer life.
HE WILL BE A PROVIDER. Head's up: Now, these will not go in "biblical character" order. God told me what order of characteristics to go in and this is what came next. The example that he provided for me was King Xerses. Esther 5:1 says that when the king saw Esther in the courtyard he was pleased. (Just seeing her made him happy.) He was so pleased, in fact, that his opening statement to her was, "'What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you-up to half the kingdom!'" (Esther 5:3) A married woman friend of mine and I were talking about how much we like a certain current rap song that says a very similar message (You want it? You can have it.). Now, a GOOD WOMAN is not looking at this kind of man from a gold digging perspective. The objective is not to get someone to feed into your "lust of the eyes" fetishes. But there is a comfort that comes in knowing that a man can take care of you...not just can, but wants to. What really ministered to me about this is that you have no idea how many men I have dated who didn't even have a kingdom (anything conceived as constituting a realm or sphere of independent action or control) to offer. QUEENS MARRY KINGS. Now, we must be "queen qualified" to be "king worthy" and that definitely takes some working over (Esther 2:12-14), but once you can provide a king with the privileges that come with being a queen, you have every right to expect what a king can offer a queen as well. That said, marrying less than a "king"...a godly heir (I Peter 2:9) brings about someone who may not be able to provide for you in the way that you deserve. If you should choose to do so, God certainly honors choice, but if you consider yourself to be in the royal priesthood, reconsider linking yourself up with someone who doesn't. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
HE WILL BE COMMITTED. I don't know ANYONE who was more committed to his marriage than the prophet Hosea. It was the Lord who instructed Hosea in Hosea 3:1, "'Go, show your love to a woman loved by someone else, who has been unfaithful to you.'" (This is one of the main reasons why we need to keep our mouths off of people's relationships if we don't have any godly scripture/wisdom/discernment to back our "insights" up. What makes sense to us is not always what's right to God.---Isaiah 55:8-9) Anyway, a man who loves you will be FULLY COMMITTED to you...no matter what. I remember asking a married couple of 25 years (at the time), "In the tough times, what makes you stay together?" The husband said, "God says that he hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). I don't know what he would do if we did...I don't want to find out, either." When you are dating someone, it's kind of like a long interview. A man who is not committed (devoted, attached, faithful) to his family, his ministry, his job, his friends, his boundaries, his goals, himself...watch that dude. A walk down the aisle does not a commitment (automatically) make. A committed man is a man of character and character development takes work (Romans 5:1-4). Besides, Luke 16:13 says that a man cannot serve two masters...he will be LOYAL to one and DESPISE the other. Watch what "he" is loyal to. It's a good indicator of what you have to look forward to in the future. (Luke 6:43-44)
HE WILL BE A PRAISER. Oh, I love this one. You can tell when a girlfriend of yours is caught up in someone, can't you? She just can't stop talking about him...she can compare the bark on a tree to him. When a man is in love with a woman, contrary the the testimonies of some bitter women you may know, he will be the same way. Now, he may not be like me and send it to1500 people in an email, but she, nor the people in their intimate space, will ever have to wonder how he feels about her. When Boaz was ready to marry Ruth, he said, "'The Lordbless you, my daughter. This act of kindness is greater than the kindness you showed to Naomi in the beginning. You didn't look for a young man to marry, either rich or poor. Now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do everything you ask, because all the people in our town know you are a good woman.'" (Ruth 3:10-11) It wasn't just enough for people to know that she was a good catch; he wanted her to know that he knew it. I have been around men who, after leaving their presence, I have no idea why they are with the women that they are (dating or married). They are always complaining about something she's done or said, and more times than not, by her, they seem more burdened than blessed. (Not saying that some of the women may not possibly have something to do with that [Proverbs 21:9], but still.) If you don't get praised by the object of your affection, don't fall for that, "I'm shy" or "I don't express myself well" stuff. If he has a job, he had to interview for it, which means that he had to express himself. WHAT MEN WANT THEY WILL WORK TO GET AND TO MAINTAIN. The New Century Version of I Thessalonians 5:11 says that in encouraging, we give one another strength. Hebrews 3:13 (NCV) says that we should provide encouragement every day because it will help some of us from being hardened by sin. Proverbs 12:18 says that the tongue of the wise promotes health. Proverbs 15:4 says that a wholesome tongue is the tree of life and Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. My point? Words are important. Hmm...I wonder how many marriages (50% of all both in and out of the Church currently ending in divorce) have suffered all because they didn't care about/put a conscious effort into what they said...or didn't say to each other.
HE WILL BE ATTENTIVE. Ain't nothing worse than a stingy...disconnected...insensitive...ignorant-about-my-needs kind of man. (Yuck) I think one of the most beautiful examples of an attentive mate is Hannah's husband, Elkanah. I definitely know what it's like to not be in the best of moods and while Hannah was barren, she was a good example of such. (I Samuel 1) However, in spite of her crying...her mood swings...her ups and downs with the other "family members" (verse 6), Elkanah was still there to meet her needs. "When Elkanah offered sacrifices, he always gave a share of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to her sons and daughters. But Elkanah always gave a special share of the meat to Hannah, because he loved Hannah and because the Lordhad kept her from having children." (I Samuel 1:4-5) As a matter of fact, as much as her barrenness bothered her, it didn't seem to make him see her as any "less of a woman" or not worthy of being the love of his life...all he wanted was the presence of the woman he married ("'Hannah, why are you crying and why won't you eat? Why are you sad? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?'"---I Samuel 1:8) You want to know how to know if a man is digging you? He will be attentive to you. Elkanah had A LOT going on (other wives, kids, traveling to do and sacrifices to make), but he was never too busy for Hannah. When she hurt, he hurt. When she was troubled, it troubled him. That doesn't mean that he babysat her (if you continue reading the story, you will see that a lot of what she needed only GOD could give her), but it does mean that he made it a priority to see that his helpmate had what she needed...not just monetarily, but emotionally.
HE WILL BE SUPPORTIVE. I think one of, if not the best example of a supportive husband is Joseph(Mary, the mother of Christ's, husband). Can you imagine what it must have been like to be with a woman who claimed to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Yeah, it makes sense to us now because we are seeing it all in reverse, but let me tell ya'll that I am pregnant and I didn't have sex...then let me be married at the same time! When it comes to our individual purposes in life, as I learned in the devotional message God gave me ("Purpose Prevails"), it's not always gonna make sense to the masses. I was just telling a loved one recently that God doing a new thing (Isaiah 4:19) doesn't usually have a pattern to it (uh, hence it being called, "new"). I know this is another one that God really wanted me to pay attention to because Lord knows that it will take a man who is really secure in who and whose he is to be able to hang with me for the long haul. But all single women, I want you to catch a few points. One, although Mary gets a lot of the attention as it relates to the birth and rearing of Christ, it was actually JOSEPH who was in Christ's bloodline. (Matthew 1:16-17) This means that before he was even born, he was called to take on such a task as being the "stepfather" of Christ. I believe this is what gave him the strength to handle all of the pressure/expectations that came with the position. Two, he was open to whatever GOD wanted him to do as it related to Mary: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us'. Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.And he called His name JESUS." (Matthew 1:18-25) A couple of men that I've dated have had the hardest time with me writing about my sexual past, blogging for a porn ministry...traveling and speaking on taboo topics. The story of Joseph shows me that those men, while good men for someone, none of them were who God had in mind for me. The verses about say that Joseph was "just a man", but what made him "man enough" to handle a virgin pregnancy was that he thought...he prayed...he listened...and HE OBEYED. The third point? Supporting Mary in what God appointed her to do was more important than his comfort, his opinion or even his positional role as her husband. Queens, we are ONLY to submit to men who submit to God. When we don't, we could end up missing out on a lot that God has in store for us...a lot of what God would give our husbands the "head's up" on, if only they would listen. A man you are dating who is more interested in how you can support him than he can assist you...take heed...this is a red, flashing warning sign from God.
HE WILL BE ROMANTIC. Praise the Lord! I'm sure you already know who I am going to in order to support this trait: King Solomon. Now, let me stop right here for just a moment. GOD IS NOT A MAN, HE IS A SPIRIT. Therefore, the spirit of someone is far more important to him than the flesh. It amazes me how many people I know who say their parents are not prejudice/racist, but they do not support them dating outside of their race/culture. To them and their parents, I say, check out the Message Version of Acts 10:27-29: "Talking things over, they went on into the house, where Cornelius introduced Peter to everyone who had come. Peter addressed them, 'You know, I'm sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don't do this-visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. So the minute I was sent for, I came, no questions asked. But now I'd like to know why you sent for me.'"Romans 2:11 says that God is no respecter (someone or something that is influenced by the social standing, importance, power, or any deterrent put forth by persons or things) of persons. I Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) states, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Esther married outside of her culture...and God blessed it. Ruth married outside of her culture...and God blessed it. Moses married outside of his culture...and God blessed it. Don't you miss out on your blessing by letting people's UNGODLY prejudices influence you. Why am I bringing this up? Well, because the first chapter of Songs of Solomon, perhaps the most poetic, yet definitely the most romantic and sexually explicit book of the Bible speaks of a woman who refers to herself as "dark" (but lovely...don't get it twisted!---verse 5) She was different from her lover, but he loved her nonetheless. Preferenceis one thing...purposeis something else. Please make sure in your judging and mate selection that you understand the difference between the two. The Bible doesn't say love one another (Romans 13:8)...unless they are of a different race and marry your child. We are to LOVE PERIOD. OK, as it relates to the romantic part, the Bible says that ALL SCRIPTURE serves a purpose in our lives. (2 Timothy 3:16) God created love. God created sex. And God created (appropriate, mature, purposeful) romance. Now, that doesn't mean that every man will be as poetically profound as Solomon. He was the son of one of the greatest poets of all time, David, after all and so a lot of this gift was in his genes. But, I believe that God put "romantic" on the husband worthy list because he wanted his daughters to see that there is nothing wrong with being wooed; with having a man who wants you so badly that he finds you to be the most beautiful of all women to him (Song of Solomon 1:8)...who calls your voice "sweet" (2:14)...who finds absolutely NOTHING wrong with you (4:7)...who believes that your love is better than wine. (4:10) AND WHO TELLS YOU/SHOWS YOU SO. Do you know how many women Solomon knew...and well, knew? (I Kings 11:3) And yet, she was the MOST BEAUTIFUL to him. Ladies, there's no need to compete. There's no need to try and be someone you're not. I've finallygotten to a place in my self-esteem that I KNOW that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) Whoever he is, he will find my full lips, overbite, Afro hair, "odd" style, size 10 figure to be amazing...not just amazing...but MOST BEAUTIFUL. The comfort in this book of the Bible as well is that it's not just filled with verses to "her", but she also speaks back to Solomon. I Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV) instructs married couples, "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." To not want to hold out on my husband, that would mean that I would have to desire him, right? Not just on my wedding day, but for the rest of my life. I joke with many of my friends that in my spirit, I know God is saying, "I mean...can I choose just once?" I am at the place now where I am like, "Have at it!" because God's Word says that what HE DOES nothingcan be added to or taken from it. (Ecclesiastes 3:14) Whoever he is, wherever he is, he will not need more than what God gave him to get or keep my attention...in the bed or out. God knows what's up...even better than I do.
Yep, that's seven. The final point? Well, it's in the lead scripture for today. God did not askus to respect our husbands; he toldus to. If you are dating someone that you do not respect, even if you love him, that is going to cause GREAT CONFLICT in a marital union. A man doesn't just up and love his wife after they jump the broom. A woman doesn't just up and respect a man after her wedding night. It's all a process. What God has revealed to me is that loving a man is not enough...respect is essential. If you can't/won't respect him, you are doing both of yourself a great disservice.
Well Queens, I'm tired, but I KNOW that God wanted me to get this to you just as soon as possible. I personally believe that 2009 is going to be a year of swiftreaping. We must be able to discern/discard/select, in all areas of our lives, better than ever.
Here's to praying that you meet your "Abraham/King Xerses/Hosea/Boaz/Elkanah/Joseph/King Solomon" like king and that you will KNOW him when YOUR SPIRIT sees him.
You are all deserving.
Keep me posted. :-)
Â©Shellie R. Warren/2008