Christian Family, Free Online Correspondence Course Lesson 2

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Newlyweds and Young Couples

Keeping the Good Wine Until Last: It was noted that the Garden of Eden – garden of delights – was the home of the first couple. Such was God’s design for them. The very first miracle Jesus did was to turn water into “good wine” for use when the wine ran out during a wedding feast (John 2:10). Wine; the good wine   —  indicates delight. As in Eden, and as in the wedding in Cana, God wants to give us pure delight, pure joy. Adam and Eve had fellowship with God in Eden, and that was the secret of their delight. Jesus Christ was present at the wedding in Cana, and that was the secret of the good wine. 

Was not Eden the most ideal place for perfect love and fellowship? But how sadly things went wrong. What great sorrows followed. The happiest days of our life are open to subtle dangers if we stray away from God, if we go against His purpose for us. We cannot be too careful. In the midst of innocent joys, it is possible for us to lose our sensitivity to the promptings of the Spirit. 

The danger can be warded off if we keep thanking God for His goodness, and maintain our joy in prayer (Is. 56:7) and in God’s Word (Psa. 119:103). There is joy and fellowship in the husband and wife kneeling down and praying together, and listening to each other pray. There is joy and fellowship in the husband and wife reading God’s Word aloud to each other. There is joy and fellowship in the husband and wife sharing their hearts and communicating their joys and sorrows. There is fellowship in the Spirit, and the two spirits experience blessed union.
May this be our portion in daily life. 

The opening pages of the Bible describe the marriage between Adam and Eve. The closing pages of the Bible describe the marriage between Jesus Christ and the Church. Marriage is most precious in God’s sight. May it be so in our hearts. God created Adam and Eve in His own image (Gen. 1:27), and joined them saying: “…they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Reflect for a moment on the glory of the union between two beings created in God’s image. Concerning this union, Jesus Christ said, “what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt: 19:6). That such a union is unbreakable should be obvious. This is
stamped upon our hearts, and the stamp is clearer still when we are born again by faith in the Son of God. Paul describes the marriage union as a “mystery,” thus signifying the spiritual nature of the oneness.

The fellowship and oneness in marriage is so precious that we should expect severe attacks from the enemy who tempted and defeated our first parents situated in the most ideal environment. We shall have “trouble in the flesh” (1 Cor. 7:28). Beyond the innocent delights of wedlock, lasting bliss is founded on sacrifice: The husband lives for the wife, not for himself; for him, the wife comes first (Eph. 5:25). The wife lives for the husband, not for herself; for her, the husband comes first. Their union rests upon a covenant to be kept at the cost of life. A union that rests on this foundation rests secure by God’s grace. 

Difficult situations will arise in your marriage. This is normal. It may seem that the wine has run out. It may seem that you have only water left. Please come to Jesus. He will turn your water into wine as He did in Cana. He will bring you back to Eden, the garden of delights. Come to
the Lord in true repentance, and in true humility. It is His will that you have the good wine all through your married life. Ask God for the joy of the Holy Spirit. As you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you are also filled with God’s love (Rom. 5:5). 

Submitting as Unto the Lord: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). Note, “as unto the Lord”. Only a wife who knows the Lord in the Spirit, and is one with Him in the Spirit, can understand this and obey this. Seek therefore to know the
Lord in the Spirit, and learn to submit to the Lord in all things. How else can you submit to your husband as unto the Lord? It is the way of sacrifice, and therefore of purest joy. There is unlimited blessing for a wife who follows this way. She will reap abundant rewards in the spirit
first, and in the natural as it pleases the Lord. 

Loving as Christ Loved: The commandment to the husbands is: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). Note, “even as Christ also loved the Church.” Only a husband who knows the Lord in the Spirit, and is one with Him in the Spirit, can understand this and obey this. Seek therefore to know the Lord in the Spirit and obey Him in all things. How else can you love your wife as Christ loved the Church? It is the way of sacrifice, and therefore of purest joy. A husband who follows this way will have
God’s blessings upon him and his family. 

Christ is the heavenly bridegroom of the Church. The Church is Christ’s Body, a people who love Him with bridal love in bridal purity. The Holy Spirit brings this bridal love in our heart. The Holy Spirit keeps us in bridal purity. Please seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit through earnest prayer. Our bridegroom is coming. Three times in the last chapter of the Bible Jesus Christ said: “I am coming quickly”; the last of these three reads: “Surely I am coming quickly.” The response of the bride is: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” God has put that faith in my heart. God has put that joy in my heart. May God put that faith and that joy in the heart of everyone who reads this. 

The First Year of Marriage

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See God’s special care for the newlyweds: “When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army, nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken” (Deut. 24:5, New American Standard). It is a husband’s duty before God to devote quality time for fellowship with his new wife, and give her happiness. This will cement their love and settle their affection for each other. Special devotion to each other during the first year will help establish in their hearts a commitment to remain faithful in the midst of cares and trials in years to come. 

If you have failed in this area, repent. Take time now to cherish your spouse and give her happiness. Take time to acknowledge your failures. Perhaps now you can go the second mile.  

Serving One Another; Praying with One Another

“Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord” (1 Sam. 25:41). This was the response of the wise and beautiful Abigail when asked to become David’s wife. How pure and blessed are her words! Such a wife is indeed a “crown” for her husband  (Prov. 12:4). May every Christian wife be so adorned, and so adorn her husband. True happiness in the home – and in the Church and community  — is the fruit of serving one another. 

Abigail offered to be the servant of the servants of David. How bless
ed it would be for a husband to serve such a wife. The Lord Jesus Christ was the servant of all, and we are His servants. The husband is first a servant, and therefore the leader in the home. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the example by washing the disciples’ feet. If we remember Him we will have wisdom to serve one another in true humility. Our Lord said, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all”  (Mark 10:44). 

Have we, as husbands, been taught to “give honor” to our wives? That is precisely what is written: “…Husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7, New King James Version). Peter here instructs the husband: (1) Dwell with the wife with understanding; this refers to cohabitation, and here the husband needs to be wise and selfless. (2) Give honor to the wife; this refers to the husband’s respect for the wife, and his trust and confidence in her. (3) The husband and wife are heirs together of the grace of life; the two are partners not only in the natural, but also in the spiritual. (4) Unless the husband and wife have a proper appreciation of these things, their prayers one with another, and one for another, will be hindered. See how careful the apostle was to emphasize prayer in this context. 

The First Blessing for the First Couple: Be Fruitful and Multiply

God ordained that Adam and Eve should be fruitful and multiply. This was the very first blessing God pronounced upon man (Gen. 1:28). A godly wife is as a “fruitful vine,” and her children are like “olive plants,” we read in Psa. 128:3. 

The Scripture reveals God’s very close attention to conception as it takes place in the mother’s womb: “For You did form my inward parts, You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will confess and praise You, for you are fearfully wonderful, and for the awful wonder of my birth! … My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being formed in secret and intricately and curiously wrought…Your eyes saw my unformed substance…How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God!” (Psa. 139: 13–17, The Amplified Bible). These scriptures plainly show God’s wonderful work in conception. It is most blessed for us to greatly praise God when He grants conception. 

Counsel for Couples

After your marriage, when you are with your spouse, may your love and  your union be an offering to God. Remember: an offering to God. As you experience joy and fulfillment, anticipate the greater fulfillment: a godly offspring (Mal.2:15, New King James Version). That child may be
an Isaac or a Samuel or a Mary. We are to receive with thankfulness the children God gives us. 

People say that the Bible gives no specific instruction about family planning, nor does it condemn contraceptive measures. Is not preventing conception a moral issue? Absolutely. Then the silence of the Scripture (see Introduction: Two Important Reference Points) is condemnation of a new form of evil, especially in light of Gen. 1:28 and Gen. 9:1 as well as the other passages describing the blessings of having children. This is evidently the case in this matter because the first blessing to the first couple was to be fruitful and multiply. We don’t have a single verse that commands or permits us to prevent conception. 

Hear Paul’s very specific advice regarding how the spouses may live together: “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” (1 Cor. 7:5-6, New King James Version). However, later in the same chapter we read the Apostle’s words to the husbands who live in the last days to live as though they had no wives, because time is short (1 Cor. 7:29). Living in these last days we need wisdom from God to live as we ought. Peter counsels husbands to live with their wives with “understanding, giving honor to the wife” (1 Peter 3:7, New King James Version). 

Abstaining for Prayer and Fasting: Paul counsels the couples to abstain with mutual consent “for a time,  that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer…” (1 Cor. 7:5, New King James Version). From this we may infer that abstinence for a period of fasting and prayer was practiced by the believers in Paul’s time. [Note: Some translations omit “fasting”.] How profitable would it  be for couples to take time for prayer and fasting, abstaining from lawful pleasures. It is certain that married life will be only the more blissful for  such abstaining. Except for such seasons of unhindered prayer, the couples are not to defraud one another the use of their bodies. 

Both in the Old Testament and the New, God’s people fasted and prayed. It allows us unhindered communion with God. Regular, disciplined fasting has many health benefits, including healing of sickness. 

Abstaining After Childbirth: Please read Leviticus chapter 12. On this passage the Matthew Henry Commentary says, “There was some time of strict separation immediately after the birth. During these days she was separated from her husband and friends…” In ancient cultures it was recognized that, depending on the health of the mother, several weeks (or even a few months) of rest and nutrition were necessary for her to return to normal life. This would also promote health and happiness in family life. 

Refraining From Coming Together for a Time: This should be done according to the Lord’s leading. Sometimes refraining from coming together for a time may be necessitated by the limitations of the health of either spouse. 

Breast Feeding: In Biblical times the mothers nursed until the child was two to three years old. Nursing has great health benefits for both the mother and the child. Spacing of children may be facilitated by breastfeeding. 

Naming the Newborn: The naming of the newborn had prophetic significance (Gen. 5:29;
4:25). The meaning of the name signified both the character and the potential of the child. What does this teach us? While the child is in the womb, the mother and father may pray for the child, and receive faith from the Lord concerning the child’s future. Thus they can bless the child with the appropriate name when it is born. 

Serving God as Wife and Mother

While the husband is the leader of the family, the wife is its builder (Prov. 14:1), and she needs wisdom from God to build (Prov. 24:3). She needs her husband’s support. Much honor comes to a husband (Prov. 31:23) who honors and appreciates his wife (Prov. 31:28). A husband should endeavor to make his home a place of rest for his wife (Ruth 1:9; 3:1), and highly honor her calling as wife and mother. This will allow her to fulfill her ministry to him and to the children, as well as to the guests, visitors, and the needy who come to her. Such a woman is doing  what St. Francis of Assisi taught: “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.” 

The honor and obligations of being a wife and mother may be learned from Prov. 31:10-31, 1 Peter 3:1-6, Eph. 5:22-24 and Titus 2:3-5. Please read these passages slowly. What can we learn from the virtuous woman of Prov. 31? She is doing good to her husband. She is very industrious and income-producing, working willingly with her hands. She is an early riser. She gives to the poor. She takes good care of the needs of her family members. She is a joyful person. She speaks words of wisdom and kindness. She watches over her household. She is not idle. Wives, please pray for grace to fulfil such a calling. 

The young wife of Titus 2 is devoting herself to the family. A mother’s full-time care for children is needed today more than ever before; so great are the evil influences on the children in our modern permissive culture. The obligations of being a wife and mothe
r often conflict with the pursuit of a career. If you are pursuing a career out of financial need or conviction of God’s leading in your life, ask the Lord for great wisdom not to fail in your duties as mother and wife. I know a mother whose grown children are deeply thankful to her for giving up her career to devote herself to raising them. 

There are situations where it becomes necessary and desirable for a wife to work to supplement her husband’s efforts in earning a living for the family. (Prov. 31:13–19). However, sometimes it is possible and wise to manage with less, and live a life of contentment using principles of good stewardship. The husband and wife should seek God to know His “good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will”(Rom. 12:2). 

It is a blessing that in our day educational and employment opportunities are open to both men and women. I know instances in poor families in India where daughters, having received an education, work hard to lift their families from poverty, thus opening a door of hope for many. I
believe that such women should be commended. However, when a wife  sacrifices the family’s needs for her career, the results are lamentable. We see this all around us today. 

Is it pleasing to God for a woman who has the enormous duties of a wife and mother to pursue a career that demands many hours of work outside the home? Often such women leave their children with baby sitters or in day care centers. These children suffer emotionally and spiritually. Are you failing your children? Have you, as a Christian wife, sought the Lord in this matter? Have you, as a Christian husband, sought the Lord for your wife in this matter? If we do not seek the Lord, we will be driven by the norms of the world. Is there need for repentance?  Sarah served God as wife and mother. So did Mary, the mother of Jesus. Are not such mothers full-time servants of God? I believe so. They are serving God in serving their families, the Church, and others. They are serving God in raising the future servants of God as John Wesley’s mother did.

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