Sex in the Name of Love

I have been abstinent for more than four years. When I recommitted myself to the Lord and to living a holy lifestyle, someone told me that I wasn’t really living a difficult life of abstinence because I was single. He went on to say that couples who are practicing abstinence together are the real MVPs the only legitimate members of the celibacy team. In retrospect, I imagine he was insinuating that I was abstinent by default and not by choice. I don’t think it ever crossed his mind that a young woman in her 20s would choose a sexless life. Who could blame him? The movies we watch, the songs that we jam to, and the television programs we DVR encourage and entice us to indulge in sex. The more we indulge, the more our carnal desires are titillated and seduced into exploring that which God designed to be sacred.

Sex is a natural, biological act that almost everyone will experience at some point in life. It is the ultimate experience of ecstasy that we will find on this side of Heaven, and once we have tasted that ecstasy it seems almost impossible to go without. When I met my fiancé, I was nervous for this very reason. I knew that sex before marriage was not an option and I didn’t care how fine he was, I would not compromise. Ironically, the fact that he believed in Jesus was not enough to convince me that we held the same convictions about sex. (Yes, there are singles in the church who struggle with sex) On our first date, you could imagine my surprise when he asked me about the purity ring that my father had delicately placed on my right ring finger on my sixteenth birthday. I never anticipated that we would discuss these things so soon, but I’m glad we did. It was then that he told me that he, too, was saving himself for his wife. When he told me of his recommitment to purity, I knew that he was serious potential.

In a world where sex in relationships is the encouraged norm, my fiancé and I have chosen to remain abstinent until we get married next spring. Abstinence is probably one of the most challenging tests we have faced, but there are a few reasons why we know this is the best decision for us.

  • God loves sex.

You read right. God didn’t just create sex for reproduction; He created it for pleasurable connection, romance, and intimacy. Yes, God loves sex! In fact, God intended for sex to be so wonderful, so life-altering, so magical, and so sensational…that only marriage is strong enough to handles its effects (Click to Tweet!). He knew that a connection this powerful outside of the intended confines of marriage could be destructive. Voddie Baucham said it best: [paraphrase] Sex is like a fire. Inside of a fireplace, it’s contained and it’s heat comforts, soothes, warms, consoles. Outside of the fireplace, fire is vicious, wild, dangerous, and catastrophic. The number one reason why we aren’t having sex is because we want to honor God. I believe that one of the reasons why God commands us to wait is because in a marriage, he is the glue that holds it together. Consummation without covenant is displeasing to God and leaves Him out of the equation. He longs for us to protect and preserve the marriage bed because anything else is simply settling for second best.

  • Premarital sex is selfish

It is impossible for lust to be satisfied, yet it constantly begs for more and more. Operating as the opposite of lust, love gives wholly and fully of itself. Tim Keller says that [married] sex is a radical self-donation. Covenantal intimacy seeks to protect and pleasure your spouse. Lustful passion wants to be pleased and pacified without much significant thought of the other person. We get the phrase “true love waits” when we take into account that real love isn’t hasty or irrational. It waits until it’s time to blossom and mature into all that God ordained it to be. No matter how much I love my fiancé, if we dabble into sexual sin it has tainted what God originated to be a selfless donation of love into unbridled selfishness. I am not protecting the heart and soul of my mate when I lie with him without promising to love him until death separates us. I am putting my feelings, my desires, my lusts before him and everything else. Love sees no need to hurry ahead of God; it waits for His perfect timing. Even Jesus waited to give His life—the ultimate self-donation of love—until the Father granted Him permission and announced that it was time. Sex before marriage says, “I’m not thinking of you. I’m not caring for you. I’m exposing you because I’m thinking of myself and what I want.” (Click to Tweet!)

  • Premarital sex breeds distrust and insecurity

Growing up, my mother always said that it is impossible to cultivate a trusting foundation when premarital sex is present. She pointed out that when you see couples who struggle with trusting one another you are seeing the fruit and repercussions of premarital sex.   In a marriage, sex has the power to reinforce the unshakeable covenant that was established; however sex beyond the confines of marriage exposes and deconstructs the trust that may have once stood unwavering. How can this be? Well, it’s simple really. If I give my body to a man who has not committed to me in marriage, then I have given a piece of myself that he did not earn. In the heart of every woman lies a yearning to be deeply desired yet fiercely protected by her man. A woman cannot help but swoon over a man who finds her sexually attractive, yet cares enough about her heart to practice discipline over his own body. When a man denies sexual indulgences because of his fear of the Lord and his love for his woman, she can trust that his accountability to the Lord governs him more than his sexual urges.

My fiancé is very committed to our decision to remain abstinent until marriage. Honestly, that choice is one of the things that has proven his commitment to me. I have no doubts that he is faithful to me because I know who governs him. He is not his own man; he answers to the Lord. My mother and I have had countless conversations about relationships and one of her nuggets of wisdom that I will keep with me is this: Jesus is the only one who keeps a man faithful to the woman in his life. There is no amount of will power that is strong enough to keep a man from physically or emotionally stepping out on his woman. Only the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit will cause a man to withstand temptations (because they will come) and remain faithful to the Lord and to his wife. However, if that man is not submitted to the Lord, then who holds him accountable to his actions and conversations with other women? Something bigger than himself must have a hold of the man, and if he cannot control his urges with you… what controls them when you’re away? These were the types of thoughts that marred my mind when I foolishly engaged in sex before marriage in a previous relationship.

Sex before marriage destroyed my self-esteem. I knew I was sinning against God but I was more compelled by my obsession for affection that I handed over my most precious gift as if I’d forgotten that all sales were final. During that season, my heart begged for more. I had affection but I lacked security. Someplace deep down I was forced to face the reality that I was worth more than empty sex in a relationship that promised no future. I knew that my heart was worth my weight in gold, and more than I wanted to be touched, I needed so desperately to be known. Once sex became a factor, it was much easier for me to believe the lies and excuses that constantly barraged me. Lust caused me to turn a blind eye to the dysfunctional aspects of my relationship and I somehow convinced myself that sex would make me forget about our deficiencies. It only heightened them. I never trusted him because when my heart wanted to be known and understood most were the moments when sex was initiated almost as if to stifle my cry for love. Each encounter became more taxing on my soul.

And then I met the love of my life. He was a man who hung onto my every word when I spoke. He was the man who thanked me just for taking time out of my day to spend it with him. He was the man who chose to hug me after our first date rather than kissing me. He was the man who spent hours with his mentor learning how to best protect me. He was the man who took the time to learn the things that made me cry, laugh, and think. He’s the man who I still catch staring at me as if I’m the only person in the room. He’s the man who, on my birthday in front of my friends and family, got down on one knee and asked me if I would allow him the opportunity to love me for the rest of our lives. He is the one for whom I have been preserving myself, and he has decided to join his life with mine without me ever having to give anything of myself. What sexual sin threatened to steal forever, hope in Christ has restored! He never tried to take anything from me. All he set out to do from the beginning was to give and build and grow. I am better because of him, and on our wedding day he will be worthy of all of me.

One of the most amazing things about God is that we can all come to him and lay our weariness at His feet—yes, even our sexual frustrations. Living a sexless life is not easy, but God always rewards our obedience. If you are struggling with sex, I will pose the question a dear friend of mine asked me: “Ask yourself what is connecting you to the person you are dating. Are you truly compatible from each other outside of the bedroom?” This is important to think about, especially if you are considering marriage.

Remember, there is now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. It’s never too late to make a new decision about sex in your singleness. All it takes is a “Yes” and Jesus will grace you for the days to come. Don’t focus on what you think you’re missing, but all that God is storing up for your good and for His glory.

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

I love the Lord. He is so vast that He can die for the sins of the world once and for all, yet He’s so personal that He can speak directly to our hearts and spirits every day. I love that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all and the Giver of Life and the King of the universe, but nothing makes my heart swell more than when I consider that I personally know Him. There isn’t a day that goes by where He is unattainable, inaccessible, or unreachable. God is near to us! And He has the uncanny ability to become whatever we need Him to be for us. The Apostle Paul said that he becomes all things to all men (I Corinthians 9:22), and I believe he learned that from Jesus. Throughout my life, Jesus has become many things for me, and each facet of His Person has had an astronomical influence on my life.

Friend

Photo Credit: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every teenage girl experiences the overwhelming desire to be loved and accepted by her peers. I remember feeling the pressure of being liked. I never had a hard time making friends, but it seemed that my circle of friends was constantly shifting and changing. I didn’t know why the people around me faded out of my life. All I wanted was certainty and to establish a secure friend. I met that Friend when Jesus walked into my life. I talked to Him about any and everything. He was the only Person I felt would never tire of me. Jesus wasn’t annoyed by me, no matter what time of day I called on Him. Although there were others around me, Jesus was my only consistent friend. From there, our relationship grew.

Lover

A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she is loved…Cut off from love, rejected, no one pursuing her, something in a woman wilts like a flower no one waters anymore. She withers into resignation, duty, and shame. The radiance of her countenance goes out, as if a light has been turned off. But this same woman, whom everyone thought was rather plain and unengaging, becomes lovely and inviting when she is pursued. Her heart comes alive, come to the surface, and her countenance becomes radiant… This doesn’t need to wait for a man. God longs to bring this into your life himself.
from “Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge
ID-10047309

Photo Credit: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jesus and I grew from companions to lovers. We crossed that line of camaraderie, and I began to pour myself out to Him in new ways. The things He whispered to me became more intimate, more piercing, more intense. He wooed my heart in ways that caused my pulse to both quicken and stand still. He formed me and knows exactly what words to say that will release tears of love and gratitude. Jesus is more than our Savior; He is the God who stooped down and looked at the adulterous woman in her eyes and loved her. He is the God who took the longer route to his destination in order to have a life-changing encounter with the woman at the well. People write songs and poetry about being in love with Jesus, but I had never been that infatuated with Jesus. It wasn’t until I knew Him intimately that my appreciation for Him grew to incomprehensible love. After years of wondering if it was actually possible, I fell in love with God.

Warrior

Photo Credit: "Without Fear" Jennifer Ellison, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: “Without Fear” Jennifer Ellison, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every woman longs to be the princess who is rescued from a mighty man of war who has come to win her freedom and win her hand in marriage. This man has successfully leapt over walls of fire, swum across tempestuous seas, swung on thorny vines across bottomless pits…all to save a beautiful woman who is bound by an oppressor. We fantasize about our knight in shining armor galloping on his robust steed over the horizon just as the sun is beginning to set. There he is! We long for this man to come for us so we can get away from this place we are in and be with him. As long as I’ve known Jesus, I readily identify Him as friend and lover, but I have not seen him as a warrior. Until now. My eyes have been opened through recent discoveries and now I see that He eagerly fights for me. I am wide awake to the fact that my enemy is bloodthirsty for me, but God is my Warrior and my hiding place. He hides me in the shadow of his wing and He will annihilate my enemy. God is a mighty Warrior eager to protect me from intruders and unwanted assailants. Since I have seen Him this way, my perspective of the Lord has grown. Suddenly, my confidence in Him has grown exponentially. He is mighty. He is fierce. He is able to ward off my enemies. Mostly, He believes I am worth being rescued.

The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. Exodus 15:3, NIV
But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Jeremiah 20:11, NIV
The LORD will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. Isaiah 42:13, NIV
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17, NIV


Join the discussion! Who has Jesus revealed Himself to be in your life? Leave a comment!

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan.

Many people would agree with me when I say that this past election was the most intense (and by intense, I mean brutal) political season my generation has witnessed yet. During that time I kept most of my opinions to myself, but many of my observations were troubling. The division, disrespectful comments, and blatant hatred caused my heart to ache. I expected some of this conduct from people of the world, but absolutely nothing could prepare me to witness this behavior from those who know and love the same God I serve. My prayers shifted from the election; I honed in on the Church and her heart toward people who look, act, and think nothing like her.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12, NASB)

Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus to remain strong so that they would be well armored to stand against the schemes of the devil. Satan is not a person; we don’t duke it out with an actual physical being, but Paul says we will stand up against his schemes. The dictionary defines a scheme as a plan, an underhanded plot. What, then, is Satan’s major underhanded plan against the kingdom of God? He wants us to turn on each other rather than fighting against his evil powers. If the devil can get us to destroy one another, then he won’t have to! When we attack one another, we are literally doing the devil’s job for him. We become an accomplice to the kingdom of darkness when we operate in any spirit that opposes God’s holy nature. 

What Would Jesus Do?

In Matthew 16, we see Jesus telling His disciples about His horrible death, His burial, and His glorious resurrection. Then, something interesting happens.

Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get [thee] behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interest, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:22-23, NASB; also recorded in Mark 8:33)

Can you imagine how Peter must have felt to hear such a response from the Lord? To add a little context to what was happening, Jesus had just asked the disciples who they thought He was. Peter was the one to whom God revealed that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus then marvels at this, and blesses Peter, spiritually promoting Peter as the rock of His church (Matthew 16:17-19). It’s after this that Jesus goes on to tell the disciples about God’s plan for the salvation and redemption of the world through His death. Peter, probably feeling pretty great about himself after Jesus’ affirmation, decides to stand up and defend the Lord. How often do we try to prevent that which God has ordained for “righteousness” sake? Peter probably thought he was exhibiting the sort of stance Jesus would be proud of. How wrong Pete was.

Jesus, in His perfect knowledge and wisdom, knows that He is being faced with a scheme in disguise of a caring disciple. Jesus does something remarkable! He doesn’t scold Peter, judge him, or even address him. He addresses Satan: the spirit or principality that was attempting to come against God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. Of course, Peter doesn’t know that when He was expressing His strong assertion he was being used as an accomplice to speak against what God had ordained. Jesus knew this, but he didn’t attack Peter; He attacked the spirit.

Too often Christians are anxious to attack one another for the sake of righteousness or because we think our efforts will impress Jesus. But, we must ask ourselves, are we cooperating with God’s spirit of love or with Satan’s spirit of division? We must fight against principalities and powers by wearing the armor of God, using the fruits of the Spirit, and spending much time in intentional prayer. Rather than judging the less fortunate, why don’t we attack the spirit of poverty? Rather than despising homosexual people, why don’t we attack the spirit of sexual immorality? Rather than attacking the President or other elected officials, why not attack the spirits of darkness that come against the Church? If you find yourself frustrated with certain things or people, channel that frustration to its rightful place! Be frustrated with Satan and his grip on our generation. Be frustrated with the power of darkness that cannot be attributed to one person’s name or face or skin color. Be frustrated about the lies being told to helpless and hopeless people. We are supposed to be full of compassion. As long as we keep attacking people, we are losing. The fight is SPIRITUAL. We have to combat demonic forces. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians have the power to wage spiritual warfare against the kingdom of darkness, unless we fall for the scheme of Satan, get distracted and kill each other.

We are the army of the Lord. We should fight against the powers of darkness with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as our General. However, if we allow Satan to distract us, rather than advancing toward enemy, we’ll begin to aim our swords at each other. When that happens, Christians are left bleeding and dying — at the hand of their own brother or sister! — and the enemy can laugh as we defeat ourselves. Refuse to be a puppet manipulated by the devil to destroy people Jesus died for.

Love is a mighty weapon. When we begin to love what God loves (people) and hate what God hates (the kingdom of darkness), then we will never be confused as a member of Satan’s army. We must stop destroying our troops, and begin waging war against the devil… together!

He won’t know what hit him.

Good Thing Training: Lessons from Ruth Part I

The story of Ruth is a familiar tale about loyalty, honor, romance, and God’s provision. Most Christian women are probably more interested in Ruth’s husband, Boaz, than the heroine herself, but Ruth is a woman whose life we should all venture to study. Her story has been retold and revered for sundry years in countless books and sermons about womanhood and singleness. Ruth was mentioned while I was conversing with another sister in the faith about marriage. Since then I was inspired to study Ruth and discover lessons we can glean from her life as we continue to embark on this Good Thing Training.

 Class is in Session!

Setting the Stage

In the beginning of the first chapter, a devastating famine has struck Bethlehem.  In order to ensure his family’s survival, a man named Elimelech leads his wife, Naomi, and two sons to the land of Moab. Elimelech eventually died, leaving behind his wife and children. His sons, Mahlon and Kilion, took for themselves two countrywomen as wives, Ruth and Orpah. Ten years later, Mahlon and Kilion both died, making Ruth and Orpah childless widows. Naomi, grieving the deaths of her husband and sons, decides to return to Bethlehem after receiving word that God had replenished the land with food. Her daughters-in-law offer to accompany Naomi on her journey, but Naomi insists they stay behind where they can remarry. Naomi attempted to discourage the young women from joining her in Bethlehem, which leads me to our first lesson from Ruth.

Brittany on Why She Admires Ruth

“…her selflessness because she had the opportunity to leave after her husband died. She could’ve gone back to the land of her people, remarrying could have been her primary concern. She wasn’t about that.”
  • Ruth chose singleness

And they lifted up their voices and cried again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. Ruth 1:14, LEB

Naomi was insistent upon the young women remaining in Moab because she knew that their chances of remarrying were more likely in the land of their fathers. At that time, women who were widows were often victims of abuse and neglect. It wasn’t unlikely for a widow to be considered insignificant or an unworthy cause in the community. It was honorable for a woman to be married and Naomi was aware of the life that widowhood would offer Orpah and Ruth. She knew that the covenant of marriage would cover and protect them.

Ruth was willing to forsake the opportunity for love and remarriage. This is a powerful truth because there was nothing glamorous about widowhood. Ruth didn’t have any children, she was probably still very young which would have made her an eligible choice for marriage. Yet her loyalty to Naomi compelled her to sojourn to Bethlehem, a foreign land where the possibility for remarriage was neither guaranteed nor promised.

There are often times in our lives as women when we would rather have love than anything else. We value romance and endearing sentiments that make us feel treasured and adored. It’s important to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring love, romance, and marriage. God is love, His heart exhales romance into our spirits, and He created marriage.
However, the profundity lies in Ruth’s heart toward singleness: she would rather practice faithfulness in the life of her dead husband’s mother than to indulge her own desire to be a wife. What a sacrifice! Consider how it must bless God’s heart when we willingly commit to follow Him even when there is no guarantee that He will grant us every desire of our heart. Ruth didn’t follow Naomi out of obligation, but out of love and loyalty. In the same manner, we should have that intense commitment for God. Our hearts should be settled on following after Jesus in such a way that every other desire pales in the light of His glory.

Brittany on Contentment in Singleness

 “Being content with one’s singleness is a process that takes work and intentionality.  It’s not something that one should expect to happen overnight, especially if just exiting a meaningful relationship. But even in a world obsessed with love and relationships,  it is completely attainable. For most people, it will require a complete paradigm shift as well as a complete surrender to Christ. The paradigm shift is needed because even in Christian circles, contentment in singleness is often thought of as a cover-up by someone who secretly hates singleness. [A paradigm shift requires] …a complete surrender to Christ because He is the one who changes us and gives us complete joy in Him and Him alone. When Christ becomes our Superior Pleasure, we find out that as long as we have a fulfilling, personal relationship with Him, contentment in singleness and in life in general, comes as a result.”
  • Ruth was willing to forsake lesser gods to follow Almighty God

And she [Naomi] said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:15-16, ESV

It is important to remember that Ruth was a Moabite. Moab was the son conceived by Lot and one of Lot’s daughters (see Genesis 19:30-38). The Moabites and the children of Israel were not allies or friends. A commentary I read noted that it wasn’t an abomination for Israelites to marry Moabites, but the Moabites were restricted from the assembly of God (see Deuteronomy 23:3-6). These two groups were commonly in conflict with one another throughout Biblical history. The Moabites served pagan gods, one being Chemosh. In Ruth’s decision to follow after Naomi’s God she had to leave every other god in the dust. Ruth not only abandoned her family and her homeland, but every ounce of familiarity she had ever known. Ruth pointedly tells Naomi that she would adopt her God as her own, denying her allegiance to any other god or ideology. We should learn this lesson: When we decide to follow God, we must leave every other contrary idol, lifestyle, desire, and way of thinking behind. Ruth didn’t know the God of Naomi, but in faith she willingly followed Naomi to an unfamiliar place in hopes of encountering an all-powerful God. Let us be encouraged by Ruth’s example and let go of any old memories, relationships, or behavior that will not benefit us in the next season of our lives. It takes a desire for holiness to pursue God, but it takes great faith to leave lesser gods behind.

  • Ruth was unwavering

Naomi urged the girls to go back to Moab twice, after which Orpah decided to return. Ruth, on the other hand, remained at Naomi’s side. It takes a determined person to say no to someone they love and respect. Naomi was a mother figure to Ruth, yet Ruth was unrelenting in her decision to stay. Usually, if a respected mentor advises against something we have decided to do, we change our minds about our decision. Ruth was fully persuaded that she would join Naomi in Bethlehem and did not bat an eye underneath Naomi’s admonitions. Neither was Ruth shaken when Orpah turned back, and once again Naomi gave Ruth permission to leave, but Ruth held steady. She didn’t alter her position because her friend changed her mind.

Brittany on Naomi’s Insistence on Remarriage

“When people see qualities in you, they realize you would be a good fit for someone else. They want you to be a blessing for someone else. Naomi realized that [Ruth and Orpah] had more to give, [that] their time [for love] was not up.”

We should never base our willingness to obey on our friend’s approval or company. Following hard after God may mean that you have to leave some friends behind. When you both encounter an opportunity to be obedient, and your friend turns back, keep pressing! Don’t relent! Obedience is always worth the journey. Be faithful and obey the Lord’s call for you to go deeper in your relationship with Him. Ruth simply obeyed and followed God out of devotion to Naomi, but she had no idea that Boaz was on the other side of her obedience. 

  • Ruth’s obedience orchestrated opportunity

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, returning from the countryside of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the harvest of barley. Ruth 1:22, LEB

Sometimes God beckons us to tread on unknown terrain in order to lead us to a place of unmerited favor. Naomi and Ruth arrived to Bethlehem in time to receive the harvest–the good of the land. Ruth’s obedience and willingness to follow God positioned her to walk into a season of reaping and harvesting. How could Ruth partake of the harvest without first sowing? She wasn’t a citizen of Bethlehem, and she wasn’t a child of Israel; the fruit of the harvest was not hers to possess. Yet, she arrived in time to receive the good of the land. Ruth was planting seeds on the journey along the way–seeds of obedience and faithfulness. Had Ruth turned back, she would have missed the harvest. Had she allowed Naomi to discourage her or Orpah to influence her, she would have missed the harvest. Naomi meant well, but it’s better to follow God’s direction rather than man’s suggestion. Society sometimes says that marriage is the only way to gain significance, and that it is better than being single. Naomi originally discouraged Ruth’s choice of intentional singleness, but Ruth knew that following God would be more beneficial than marrying a Moabite who serves pagan gods. When Ruth chooses to follow the authentic God, He leads her a fruitful place, a new home, and to Boaz. Ruth had no way of knowing that with each step away from Moab, she was aligning herself to the path that would lead her to her future husband… and the God who had captured her heart.

Stay tuned for Lessons from Ruth Part II as we delve into the second chapter of Ruth together.

Question: Which lesson from this post would you consider to be the most difficult? Why? 

Class Dismissed!

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Special thanks to Miss Brittany Boulware for her contributions to this blog post. Please visit her blog: The Beautiful Ashes, and follow her on Twitter: @Beautiful_Ashes. 

 

Read Lessons from Ruth II NOW!

Five Truths for Christian Singles

In February I began a mini-series on singleness as the Lord began to reveal some things to me about His plan for the single Christian. (If you missed them, check them out here: Lessons from Lot & I’m Saved, So Why Am I Single?) In the most recent installment, I listed a few reasons why many of us remain in our singleness season. After that message, I began to feel pressed to express truths for every single person in the Kingdom.

#1: You are not single because God has forgotten about you.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. — Jesus via Matthew 10:30, 31 

The Bible says that the love of Christ surpasses knowledge (Ephesian 3:19). The love of the Father is unfathomable and mindbogglingly inconceivable. How a perfect God could ever love us when we were yet in our sin is a mystery. But since we know He loves us, we know that there is no good thing He will withhold from us!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gits to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! — Jesus via Matthew 7:11.

God not only loves you, but He cherishes you. He could never forget about you, for you are the very reason He sent Jesus to die. You are the motive for Jesus’ mission on earth. God was willing to lose Jesus for a moment in order to win you for an eternity. That same God could never forget about You, even when we forget about Him. You are a jewel in His crown and an important character in God’s love story. You were the “damsel in distress” (this is not just for the ladies, but for you, too, fellas!) whose Knight in shining armor paraded into the city on a donkey. That same King could never forget about His bride.

#2: You are not single because you are unattractive.

Then the Lord will appear over them; His arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; He will march in the storms of the south, and the Lord Almighty will shield them… The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people. They will sparkle in His land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! — Zechariah 9:14-16

We already know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made…that every fabric of our being was not only designed and fashioned by God, but His hands stitched and molded us into the person you and I are today. God has been dreaming about you since before the world was made. How He longed for someone who looks exactly like you! So, out of His bosom you were formed. Not only that, but Zechariah depicts God as a warrior in this passage. He swoops in and saves the day and He goes on to note how amazing and beautiful those jewels in His crown are. There is no possible way that you–God’s finest handiwork–are single because you are not attractive. You are a wonder to behold. As you fashion your spirit-man to look more like Jesus, that glow will turn heads left and right. Don’t think you’re single because of how you look or because (you think) no one notices you. Perhaps, the onlookers don’t have the capacity to fully appreciate the amazing creation that you are. Even if they cannot see your wonder or behold your beauty, you stop God in His tracks every time He looks down on you.

#3: You are not single because you have baggage.

Do you want to know how I can dare to say this bold statement? I’ll let you in on my secret. We all have baggage! There is not a single soul in existence who does not suffer or struggle from some sort of baggage or wound. Whether self-inflicted or afflicted from external forces, we all have baggage in our trunk. The good news about this is that God is a healer!

But for you who revere My name, the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall…on the day when I do these things, says the Lord Almighty. — Malachi 4:2,3

God has likened us as young calves who have been locked away in a stall…that when He comes and heals us from our baggage, we will leap and gallivant with freedom, exuberance and the testimony that God has redeemed us and removed the reproach of baggage! No, my dear, you are not single because of your baggage because we all have baggage, and God is faithful to remove baggage and all of the damage that is associated with it.

#4: You are not single because there are no more eligible men or women left.

This is a lie that the devil wants you to believe in order to coax you into settling for the next person who makes his or herself available to you. There are so many men and women of God swarming around this world, but that’s not the issue and it should not be your concern. In your waiting season, your delight should be in the Lord. Trust Him. When we complain that there is no one left for us to marry, we are ultimately expressing our unwillingness to trust the Lord to write our love story. How silly that we would dare second-guess the Author of our life’s story when He knows the end from the beginning! So, yes, there are plenty of amazing people who God is yet preparing for us, but don’t get in a rush to end your singleness so that you can snag yourself one of them. Sisters, every good man is not your man. Fellas, every beautiful lady is not yours to have and hold forever. Wait on God to lead you to the one you’re supposed to finish your life’s mission with. Delight in God and stop looking!

#5: You are not single because you are inadequate.

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. — Jesus via Matthew 11:28-30

To my dear friends who suffer from feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, incompetence, or just a sense of impossibility that marriage or a healthy relationships could ever be a reality in your life…I leave you with this simple, yet powerful truth. God gives strength to the feeble, hope to the hopeless, and comfort to the weary. It doesn’t matter what you have experienced in life, you are not inadequate and a healthy relationship is in God’s dream for you! If you are a believer in Jesus, the Bible says you are more than a conqueror! Every good thing is available to you and I, not because of anything we have done to deserve it, but simply because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. God loves marriage. He desires love for you because He is love. Love doesn’t need you to perform in order to earn it. You need not jump through any hoops. All you must do is let God embrace you in His arms and envelop you in His inconceivable love. That love heals, protects and completes us all through and through. It will wash away every thought and lie from the enemy that tells you that you are inadequate and somehow don’t deserve true love. God’s love will rebuild everything in you the devil tried to destroy…and when that love does its perfect work, God can trust you in the arms of a man or woman who is almost as crazy about you as God is.

I have given you five reasons why I know that you’re not single, but I will close by giving you one reason why I know you ARE single right now. It is this beautiful truth:

You are single because, for the time being, your God wants you all to Himself.