Happy Hubby + Happy Wife = Happy Life

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul taught the Ephesians the recipe for the happy Christian family: Submit to one another. To submit is to yield authority to a superior force. Note that it is ‘to one another’. In Chinese it means to 讓= to give way. To add another word to it, it becomes 謙讓 = humility. Indeed, o what peace – great peace will be maintained in the home when everyone has humility to give way – to submit to one another. And why do we do this? Because we respect the head of our home who is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the true model of humility. If we respect Him, we want to follow His example.

How do we submit? There are two ingredients for humility. Love and respect. Ladies first.

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22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Again Paul used a comparison, we are to yield to our husband just as the church is to yield to Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus is the head of the church, our husband is the head of our home. It’s important to note that we are to follow his lead in ‘Everything’… even when we think we are right, even when we think we know better. Why? What if he’s wrong? There is implication in these verses: Just as Christ is head of his body, of which he is the Savior. So I need to submit to Andrew as he is my head of my home, of which he is provider and leader of Marlene, Hannah, Abigail and Michelle. My role is to submit to be an example to my children. Andrew has a role too. What is his role?

Paul taught not only the wives to submit, he taught the husbands to love. Notice that there are 3 verses for the wives on submission and 8 for the husbands on loving. Read on…8bc7f703f667a06163e65cb03f4f0edf.jpg

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

How to love your wife? Follow Jesus in the way He loves His church. How?

1) v. 25 Jesus gave Himself up. That sounds like sacrificial love, isn’t it? It involves giving way too, doesn’t it?

2) v. 26-27 Holiness, cleanliness, radiance, spotless, unstained, without blemish, blameless.. These are the traits of a faithful husband and wife – who are committed to each other – to stay pure and stay true to each other. How to be clean? through the word – does the Bible guide the home to be a clean, spotless, holy without stain and wrinkle? How do women maintain a clear skin without blemish – they wash, they clean, they stay radiant. A holy marriage is more than skin-deep. It takes commitment and faithfulness to be pure and holy – especially in the marital bed.

3) v.28-31 Love your wife as yourself. Love her as you love your own body. If you love your wife, you love yourself because the two of you are one flesh. Again Jesus is our example – how to feed and care for his body – the church. Just as how Jesus loves the church, husbands are to love their wives.

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32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Application:

Men need respect. Andrew wants and needs me to respect him. He is the head of our home. I show my respect when i give importance to his role as leader of our family – me and my children. I support and help him in his responsibilities: I set an example to my children. It is not about being right, it is more about being humble. Yes, I can and there will be times when I disagree with him but I need to be mindful to disagree agreeably. I need self-control – to keep my mouth shut even when I feel like ‘giving’ him a piece of my mind. 🙂 I can assure you – it is not easy. There are times when I feel or I think that my ways are better. I realized that it is alright to feel that or think that. Submitting is not about being martyred or timid or oppressed. It is about respect – yielding, giving way to authority. I can tell him my thoughts and my feelings – but how do I do it or say it, is more important than what I say. In the end, it is about humility. If Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the Prince of peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God can be a humble babe in a manger, my substitute on the shameful cross, who am I not to be humble?

Husbands, there is only one word for you – love. Love your wife as you love yourself. Love means giving attention. Love is patient and kind. Be patient when your wife wants to tell you what’s in her mind and her heart. Just listen – there’s often no need to give answers and solutions to the things your wife tells you. She just needs a listening ear. Be kind – be gentle even when you feel like exploding with frustration or anger. Women need to be treated with TLC (tender loving care). And TLC is more than gifts or treats or trips. It is about your presence. And presence is more than physical presence – it is being attentive in mind, body and soul.

Candidly, let me tell you, we, wives are easily pleased. Small things give us much pleasure already. Try to discover what makes your wife smile. Ice cream? Hugs? Kisses? A massage? A love note? Changing the diapers of your baby? Getting up from bed when the baby is crying? Hmmm… you might say, those are no small things already. 🙂 Good news, you do not need to do it everyday. Once in awhile – to surprise your wife – sometimes these surprises go a long way to make a happy wife. Happy wife, happy life. Try it, you might find life is definitely more exciting.

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How to be happy 102

1) Do not be a KJ (kill-joy). Don’t be a Mr. Grumpy or Mr. Greedy.
2) Throw away JK (joy-killers). What are they?

Anger:
Many things in life upset us: when there is injustice, when our employees make a mistake, when our children disobey us, when we are wronged. It is alright to be angry – the thing is ‘Do not let the sun go down on our anger.’ Eph 4:26
1) Do not dwell too much on the issues that upset you.
2) Move on.

Antidote to Anger:
In the end, it is about forgiveness. Forgiving is not about condoning the mistake or denying the offence. Forgiveness is giving the offender the opportunity to do better next time. And even when he did not ask for forgiveness, forgiving frees the offended from being in bondage of bitterness.

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It is impossible to be angry and happy at the same time, right?

Anxiety (a.k.a. worry)
We often worry about many things as well: job securities; family relationships. Will our children do well in school, in their careers, in their marriage? Will our test results be favourable? Will the helpers stay long? Will my husband stay faithful to me… and on and on goes the list. All our worries are about what’s to come – and how often we waste lots of angst and energy worrying about things that never happen. The Bible tells us not to worry about what to eat, what to wear – not to worry about tomorrow. I know it is easier said than done.

Antidote to Anxiety…
Think back to the past. When I worry about whether my maids will stay long or leaving soon or when I am about to panic about having no help at home, I look back to the times when God provided for me. It might not always be according to what I wanted – but He always helped me through each challenge.

In the end, worry is a trust issue. Do I trust God enough to let God be God and let go? Letting go = worry free = happy. Try it!

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All things (good and bad) work out…

It has been said that “While a book is usually read from beginning to end, it is best understood from the end to the beginning.”

For me, the above observation is best illustrated by a verse in the middle of the book of Romans. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NIV)

Whenever I look back, I often realize how God worked out all things (good or bad) in my life for my good. I truly believe that God has a purpose for me in each experience (good or bad). For good things I thank God for his goodness, grace and mercy. For the not so good things, I know God allowed them to happen so I can learn lessons I could not have learned when everything is fine and sunny. In the seemingly bad things of life, God is still gracious and merciful. He sees me through coz he loves me.

Yesterday was the last day on our study of Romans at Bible Study fellowship. The book ended with Paul greeting all his friends throughout his missionary journey. I too am grateful for the gift of friends which I met through BSF.

I started BSF 9 years ago when my ninang encouraged me to join coz I told her I was in a period of depression. Looking back, God worked out all things through 9 years of cancer maintenance/monitoring, up and down/come and go cycles of depression, through valley of the shadow of death when my parents died within 4 months of each other, through marital crisis, through grief and anxiety..in sickness and in health, for sunshine and rain, for joy and sadness, God worked out all things for my good even though my love for him is not perfect. Even though I do not love him as much as he loves me, I know he has a purpose for me… that purpose is to make Him known to all people. God loves me and he loves you too, my friend.

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Dancing King

2 Samuel 6

12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

16 Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

Can you imagine Prince Charles of UK in his underwear dancing in the streets? I wonder how would Princess Di have reacted to such a display.. so undignified! What is a linen ephod? Is it an underwear? I thought it was.

An ephod is something girt, a sacred vestment worn originally by the high priest ( Exodus 28:4 ), afterwards by the ordinary priest ( 1 Samuel 22:18 ), and characteristic of his office ( 1 Samuel 2:18 1 Samuel 2:28 ; 14:3 ). It was worn by Samuel, and also by David ( 2 Samuel 6:14 ). It was made of fine linen, and consisted of two pieces, which hung from the neck, and covered both the back and front, above the tunic and outer garment ( Exodus 28:31 ).  (Taken from the dictionary of the http://www.biblestudytools.com)

Here’s an article I found that explained more fully what ephod really means. Was King David dancing in his underwear?

What is the issue then? What does it mean that Michal despised David in her heart? (v.16) To despise means to look down or to feel contempt. Verse 20 shows us more context how Michal was feeling about David.

20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!”

Michal was sarcastic. She thought it was undignified and shameless for a king to be dancing with his servants’ maids on the streets. Shamelessly uncover might mean more than just the garment that he’s wearing. How did David respond to this ridicule?

21 So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.”

I WILL CELEBRATE BEFORE THE LORD! Because of this motivation, David chose to be undignified and humiliated – he might be the king but it did not matter. He could not care less what other people (high or low) thought of him highly or lowly. In fact, he said that with the slave girls, he would be honored.

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What can we learn from this story?

Is it not usually the high and mighty that looked down on the seemingly ‘undignified’ (whether people or acts)? We do not usually see kings, presidents or prime ministers letting down their guards or ‘honorable’ stance or facade in public display, do we? That is not the ‘right’ protocol. Yet for the poor and the lowly, do they not rejoice when their king/president/ruler ‘party’ with them in their manner of celebrating or rejoicing?

It is interesting to note that the passage ended not with the response of David but with a statement added by the narrator of the story:  Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. (v.23) It seemed such a condemning end for Michal. Is it perhaps a fitting consequence to her disdain for her husband because of his act of worship for God?

David had such a simple humble heart – his objective is to celebrate before the Lord – to joyfully worship his God. He acknowledged that it was God who put him where he was. God appointed him to be ruler over His people.

Let me learn from David – to have a heart for God. God desires for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Let us honor God with a sincere and humble heart. We do this not for the world’s approval but to please only God. Undignified or humiliated? Certainly not in the eyes of God… and that is what matters!

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Happy, not grumpy

How to be happy… stop complaining.. rise and shine!

Philippians 2

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

To grumble is to complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.

Why do people grumble?

They see fault in everything. They focus on the bad. They fail to see the good. They see the glass half empty instead of being thankful for it half full. They take things for granted. They complain for what they do not have and forget what they have.

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They do things grudgingly – half-heartedly. They argue: exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.

They quarrel, disagree, squabble, bicker, fight, and dispute about anything and everything – even the trivial and petty.

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To be happy, do everything without grumbling and arguing.

How? Keywords to learn are blameless, pure, children of God

Is it not ironical that people who are grumblers or grumpy are often the ones not so perfect themselves? They complain about other people yet they fail to see how they are. If we do things without complaining, we learn to examine ourselves – are we blameless? Do we seek to be pure? Do we remember that we are children of God? What kind of people are the children of God? Are they grouchy, grumpy complainers? To be blameless is to be without fault. Instead of finding fault, we are to be faultless.

To be pure is to be free of contamination. As children of God we are to be clean, clear, sparkling in a ‘warped’ and crooked generation.  We are to be in the world but not ‘of’ the world. We are to stand out and be differentiated from the world. We are to not only be different but ‘make’ a difference. What is the effect of not grumbling, arguing, and being blameless, pure.

We will shine – we will stand out like stars in the dark world. We are to be salt and light.

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To be beacons of goodness in the world we need to hold on to God’s Word. Read the Bible and walk the talk. The bible is our manual for happy living… it teaches us how not to complain – to be grateful, to be contented. It teaches us how not to argue – to be peace loving, to be humble, to think of others better than ourselves. The Bible shows us how to be blameless and pure. It assures us that as children of God we are empowered to shine like stars in the dark world. God’s Word is our guide to live victoriously in joy in this warped and crooked generation.

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Anti-anxiety formula

Do you worry? About what? Why do people worry? Jesus taught his disciples not to worry.  Read Matthew 6:19-33 and Luke 12:22-31.

Here are some questions to ask when you are worried and answers to seek to stop worrying…

 

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For this reason… what reason? Read vv. 19-24, Jesus talked about wealth and money matters.

1) Earthly wealth is temporal – houses rot, cars break down, money stolen. v. 19

2) Value the things that are eternal – treasures in heaven last. They cannot be stolen, and destroyed. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness.. Kind words, good deeds, obeying God’s command to love Him and love our neighbors.. These are priceless with no expiration date. v. 20

3) Where our treasure is, there our heart is also: we pursue what our heart considered as valuable. Where is your heart? What is your treasure? v.21

4) Light and darkness: We see clearly in the light. Do our eyes see the light? Or are we in darkness? v.22-23

5) God or money: which one for you? Choose one only… it cannot be both because if I love money, God becomes second.

So for ‘all of the above’ reason, we should not worry about life: eating and drinking. All these entail money, right? If we worry about these, we are basically worrying about money matters.

Q1: IS NOT LIFE MORE THAN food and the body more than clothing?

To ponder: What is life about? Why am I who I am, where I am? What for?

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Q2: ARE YOU NOT WORTH MUCH MORE? than what? the birds of the air.. they do not work for their food. How do they live? Our heavenly Father gives them food.

To ponder: What is your worth? Where do you find your worth? In financial security? In social affirmation? In personal achievement? In your doing or in your being? Doing things to please people, striving for recognition? Our worth is in our being – we are the beloved of God. God loves us so much He sent His One and Only Son to save us from eternal death.

27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Q3: Can you add a single hour to your life by worrying?

To ponder: If I worry, does it make time skip the stuff I fret about? Does it make it go slower to the day I dread for it? Or will worry make it go faster or quicker – make the journey to recovery shorter?

28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’

Q4: Why am I worried?

To ponder: When I worry, am I helping God along? Or do I think I can do better – than how He can provide? Solomon was very rich yet the lilies of the field are clothed more gloriously than he was.

Again, how do I compare myself with the grass of the field in God’s eyes? When I worry, is it because I do not trust God to provide for me?

32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Implication: When I worry, I am eagerly seeking the things that Gentiles (those who do not know God) seek. What are these things? Eating, drinking, clothing… again money matters, right?

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The antidote to worry is to seek God – put Him first – go after the things that matter to Him – His kingdom and His righteousness. How? Find out when you read the Bible – all that He wants for His children are found in His word.

And the promise is that ‘all these things’ – all the things that you worry about needlessly, these will be ‘added’ (implication: added means it’s on top of God’s kingdom and His righteousness.. more than earthly treasures, seek the heavenly treasures.

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The A.S.K. in prayer

Have you ever felt desperate that you did not know what to do? Does it seem that you’re just hanging by the end of the rope about to fall off? That you’re at your wits’ end – no idea how to go on or move forward? It’s a yes for me. I remember crying and pleading… Lord, i can’t take it anymore. I don’t know what to do. Please help me.

Or perhaps, there is something you need to pray about – some decisions to make; a test to take; crisis to face; relationship issues to resolve. What do you pray for? How do you pray?

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Many of us are familiar with Ask and it will be given, seek and you will be find, knock and the door will be opened. In Bible Study Fellowship, we have our weekly A.S.K. so that our group mates can pray for one another. Luke 11:9-10 is sandwiched between stories, background of Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray. Let us study the context of what it means to Ask, seek and knock as we pray.

1. The Lord’s Prayer
What is prayer? How do I pray? What must i say? The disciples of Jesus asked him to teach them how to pray. Jesus taught them the Lord’s prayer. (Luke 11:2-4)

2. Persistent Prayer
After this, Jesus told them a parable about someone asking a friend for food to give to another friend in the middle of the night. (5-8) This parable illustrates the need to pray persistently – not to give up praying until an answer is given. Now beware and hold on a bit… lest we think that this is the secret to having our prayers answered – that we can NAG God to give us what we ask for – we will ultimately have our wishes granted if we persist long enough. Let us see another story Jesus told to illustrate the point of prayer.

3. Object of Prayer
Luke 11:11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

3.1. God’s goodness: We pray to God counting on his goodness to give us what we ask of him. Jesus compared God to our earthly father – or even to us as parents. We are not good = never as good as God is. Yet in our limited goodness, we know how to give good things to our children. At least we desire and want to give them good things. So much more for God. He surely wants the best for us. He has the best for us.

3.2. God’s generosity: How much more will your heavenly Father give… aside from goodness, we can never compare with God when it comes to generous giving. He gives us so much more – more than we can ever ask.

3.3. God’s guidance: the Holy Spirit… this is the final and most important truth in persistent prayer – who/what are we asking for? God promised to give us the Holy Spirit – to guide us in our daily living.

Indeed life’s challenges often put us in desperate need to ask God for deliverance. We really need to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us how to face the problems or decisions at hand. Where God leads, He guides us all the way. Let us learn to ask, seek and knock knowing that our good heavenly Father gives so much more of the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.  Amen.