now browsing by author
A wedding is one of the most celebrated events in a woman’s life. The wedding day itself is a day of celebration with flowers, feasts, beautiful clothing, and happy tears shared with family and friends. Then each year after, the wedding date is celebrated again as the couple remembers their commitment to God and to each other.
Weddings have been a cause for celebration since the very beginning. Throughout the Bible we can read about wedding feasts and the celebration involved with the start of a new marriage. Jesus was even invited to attend a wedding celebration during the early part of his ministry (John 2).
The first wedding ceremony, although simple when compared to today’s standards, must have shared much of the same happiness and emotion. Surely Adam must have felt overwhelming joy when presented with his bride. God created Eve and “brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22), much as a father walks his daughter down the aisle to her groom. As Adam looked as his bride and they were joined together as man and wife, there must have been much love and hope for their future as he said “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife.” (Genesis 2:24)
Marriage is truly a wonderful gift from God – one that should be celebrated. As our creator, God knew the nature of man. He knew that we could better enjoy this world He designed for us if we had someone to share it with. “It is not good that the man should be alone,” God said. (Genesis 2:18). So God created a suitable helper for the man, someone who would complete him in every way. And in creating the woman for the man, God also created the union that would join them together – the union of marriage.
Marriage is not an institution created by men. We did not design the idea of marriage; therefore, we do not make up the rules. Marriage is a union created by God alone. But as men often do with God’s creations, there are some who try to change God’s plan for marriage to make it fit their own wants and desires.
What is God’s plan for marriage?
1. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman. This is not a popular idea to discuss anymore, but being unpopular with the world does not make it untrue. Marriage was never designed to join together two men or two women. In fact, God calls the very idea of this kind of union an abomination (Leviticus 20:11). God did not create a man AND a woman for Adam to choose the partner he preferred. Adam, the man, was created first. Then Eve, the woman, was created to be his helper. From the beginning, God designed marriage to be a union between a man and a woman.
2. Marriage is to be between one husband and one wife. Once a man and woman are joined together in marriage, they are to be committed only to one another. God outlines His plan for the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5. The husband is to be the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church. The wife is to submit to her husband; while he is commanded to love her the way Christ loves the church and even gave himself for it. (vs. 22-25) There is no room for other men or other women in a marriage that follows God’s plan.
3. Marriage is God’s chosen vehicle for bringing children into the world. Children are one of God’s greatest blessings. They are a “heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). After God joined together Adam and Eve, He blessed them and encouraged them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). But God’s plan does not encourage all people everywhere to have children with whomever they wish. Over and over throughout the Old Testament, God warned His people “Do not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). In the New Testament, Jesus even takes the law a step farther when he said that even looking on a woman with lustful intent is the same as committing adultery in the heart. (Matthew 5:28). If we follow God’s plan for marriage, children are a blessing to be enjoyed within the marriage because the sexual relationship is only to be enjoyed within the marriage.
4. Marriage is intended to last. This is quickly becoming another very unpopular, although very true part of God’s plan for marriage. Today couples plan little and marry quickly without much thought for the future. Divorces are granted every day for any reason a couple can invent. But God’s plan for marriage does not provide for an “easy way out” in case the couple changes their mind in a year or two. Jesus taught that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery (Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11). In fact, the only reason that divorce would be permitted is if one partner is unfaithful (Matthew 19:9). “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives” (Romans 7:2).
Marriage is not an institution that needs a makeover. It is not the job of the government or any other group to insert their opinions or determine who can marry or when and how a marriage can be dissolved. Marriage is an honorable institution (Hebrews 13:4), a law created by God (Romans 7:2-3). And as the creator, God is the only one with the authority to make or change the plan for marriage.
A marriage between a new husband and his bride is certainly a cause for celebration. And so is a faithful, mature marriage that has stood the test of time. Marriage involves more than just finding our own personal happiness and sharing our life with another person as long as we find happiness in it. Marriage involves a lifelong commitment – to our spouse and to God’s perfect plan.
By Valerie Enoch
printed in the Summer 2012 issue V5N3
Over the summer, my husband and I were blessed to travel to Washington D.C. and see many of the beautiful sights in our nation’s capital. We spent one afternoon walking around the National Cathedral, which is a very impressive building. But as we took in the tall ceilings, the incredible stained glass windows, and all the ornate details and carvings, the building felt more and more empty. I kept remembering the verse in Acts 7:48 that tells how God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Many hands must have worked on the building of that cathedral. But I would guess that this cathedral has never felt the presence of God. The physical building, although beautiful, is simply an empty building.
The Lord asked the prophet Isaiah “where is the house that you will build Me?” He goes on to say “for all those things my hand has made.”God does not need man to build him beautiful and ornate buildings, for he is the creator of all things and does not need to dwell in any kind of man-made temple. Instead, God lives within us. 2 Corinthians 6:16 says that “you are the temple of the living God.” Romans chapter 8 contrasts those who live according to the flesh (or the physical world) with those who have a more spiritual mind. Romans 8:9 says that we should live according to the spirit because the Spirit of God dwells in us.
If we are going to be God’s temple and He is going to live within us, we need to be concerned with how we care for that temple. We need to see ourselves as God sees us. And God does not see our outward appearance. In I Peter 3, the women are encourage not to spend time adorning themselves on the outside fixing their hair and concerning themselves with their clothing and jewelry. Instead, they are encouraged to focus on the “hidden person of the heart.” Just as a building does not need to be adorned with stained glass windows and ornate decorations in order to be pleasing to God, we do not need to be overly concerned about the physical dressings on our temple.
It is possible for us to become so concerned with maintaining our outward appearance that we forget to maintain our “hidden person.” Jesus warned the Pharisees of the danger of focusing only on their outward appearance. They wanted to appear to be righteous on the outside, but inside they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Jesus compared them to white sepulchers, which are beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27) We, too, can be guilty of presenting a beautiful outside to the world, while our insides remain sorely neglected.
Living in this physical world, it can be easy to become wrapped up in all the ways we can adorn our physical bodies. We are constantly temped by the latest styles of clothing, shoes, and expensive jewelry. We can spend a fortune on makeup, and hair cuts, dyes, and styling. But as God’s temple, Christian women should not be overly concerned with these things. We should adorn ourselves with the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:4)
A beautiful woman, in God’s sight, let’s her beauty shine from within. She has a loving heart, cares for those around her, works hard, and speaks with kindness and wisdom. These elements of beauty can only grow with time. They do not wrinkle, turn gray, or fade as physical beauty can. A woman who chooses to focus on true beauty can maintain her beauty throughout her entire life.
By Valerie Enoch
Originally published in the spring 2012 issue V5N2
In Deuteronomy 5:1, Moses calls all of Israel before him to speak to them the statutes and judgments of God. He tells them to learn them, keep them and do them. These people took the covenant between themselves and God very seriously. It was important for the Israelites to keep God’s commandments because they were about to go and possess the land that was promised to them. The process of taking the land would require their faithfulness for many generations, so teaching the law to their children was of the utmost importance.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says that they were to teach the law diligently to their children and talk about it when in the house, when walking by the way, when lying down, and getting up. In other words – all the time. Teaching God’s laws to their children was to be a full-time job for Israelite parents.
We are no longer under the old law (Galatians 3:24-25). But the writings of the Old Testament were written for our learning and the importance of parental teaching found in Deuteronomy can surely apply to us today.
But for many of us, our days consist mostly of rushing to get our children to school and other activities on time, supervising homework, fixing meals, and running baths. There is precious little time left to talk to our children about God.
Maybe we can’t all set aside time for a hour-long family devotional every night, but there are small moments each day when we can share a portion of God’s word.
Today, we can teach our children while:
* sharing a quick bowl of cereal in the morning
* walking or driving them to school
* eating an occasional lunch with them at school
* driving to practices or meetings
* eating dinner together as a family
* giving baths
* spending a quiet moment together before bed
Each new day presents new opportunities to teach our children, and we have to be diligent and ready to seize those opportunities when they arise. As we enter into the fall season, let’s turn over a new leaf and make an effort to spend more time talking with our children about God’s word.
By Valerie Enoch
Originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue V3N4
As physical beings, we enjoy having physical reminders of those we love, especially those who are no longer with us. A grandmother’s china teacup or grandpa’s pocket knife can remind us of special times whenever we hold them.
Jesus understood how important it would be for His apostles to have a physical reminder of Him after His return to Heaven. As He sat at supper with the twelve on the night of His betrayal, Jesus instituted a memorial that would serve as a reminder of His death until He comes again (I Cor. 11:26).
This memorial, often referred to as the Lord’s Supper, involves two specific elements – the bread and the cup. Jesus assigned very special meanings to both of these elements. In Mark 14:22, Jesus took bread and blessed it. Then He broke the bread and gave it to His apostles and told them to eat because it was His Body. Jesus understood this symbolism because He knew that very soon His body would be broken for them and raised again. Following His resurrection, the apostles would better understand the symbolism as they met together to break bread in remembrance of their Lord.
Following the breaking of the bread, Jesus took a cup and gave thanks for it. He then gave it to his apostles and commanded them to drink all of it (Matthew 26:27). We understand that it was not the container that was special, but the contents in it. Jesus refers to this drink as “fruit of the vine” in Mark 14:25 and Matthew 26:29. The apostles were told that this drink represented Christ’s blood which is shed for many for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:29). Jesus used this symbolism because He knew that very soon his own precious blood would be shed because, without the shedding of blood, there could be no forgiveness for our sins.
Not long after Jesus shared this meal with his apostles, His body was given for us and His blood was shed. Jesus knew that he would be raised again, so He took the time to establish this memorial that Christians today observe as the Lord‘s Supper. Disciples of Christ all around the world meet on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) to celebrate His death and resurrection and share in this memorial. These two simple elements, bread and grape juice, have held much meaning over the years for the followers of Jesus Christ. Today, all those who have been baptized into Christ’s church can participate in this memorial and remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup (I Cor. 11:26). These are physical reminders left to us by Jesus Christ – the son of God who also lived as a man and understands our need for physical remembrances. He left us with a memorial, a promise to return, and a command “This do in remembrance of Me.”
by Valerie Enoch
published in the Spring 2010 issue V3N2
Many women today don’t seem to realize the important work that we can and should be doing for the Lord. For some women, there is even resentment regarding the role of women in the church.
The Bible clearly defines the roles given to men and women in the church. In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 11:3) he describes the structure of the church. “I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.” God makes his plan very clear in this verse. God is over Christ, Christ is over man, and man is over woman.
Paul tells us that the head of Christ is God, which puts our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a subordinate position. However, God did not think Christ was unimportant or inferior. Philippians 2:6-8 speaks of Jesus Christ when it says “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
What did Jesus do? Even though he was equal with God, he HUMBLED himself and became obedient. He wasn’t forced into a role of submission; he chose it in order to be pleasing to God.
Philippians 2:5 tells us “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Jesus chose to humble himself in order to be obedient. This verse tells us to let that kind of mind be in us. If we want to have a mind like Christ, we need to do what Christ did. We need to humble ourselves when it’s appropriate and become obedient, taking on a role of submission.
The fact that Christ was asked to be in submission to God did not make him inferior or unimportant in any way. In fact, God exalted him for his choice. When we read in I Corinthians 11:3 that the head of the woman is the man, it shouldn’t make us feel inferior. We have a choice to make just like Christ did. God gives us an opportunity to take on a special role – a role of submission just like Christ. He gives us a choice to humble ourselves – he doesn’t force us. It doesn’t make us any less important just like it didn’t make Christ any less important when he chose to humble himself.
The Bible places women in a position of honor, not inferiority. But in order to maintain the order and structure of the church as God requires, there are times when we must choose to be humble.
What Will You Choose?
By Valerie Enoch
Originally printed in the summer 2009 issue
As an actress walks down the red carpet at an important event, one common question asked by reporters is “Who are you wearing tonight?” In the world of Hollywood, the name of your designer means something and who you are wearing is just as important as what you are wearing. Even in the every day world, your brand of clothing means something to many people who pride themselves on the labels they wear.
If you are a Christian, you wear a much more important label. Christians wear the name of Christ, and this “label” should be just as obvious to others around you as the label stitched to the back of your jeans.
When a model walks the runway at a fashion show, she must put on the clothes created by a certain designer and in so doing, she represents that designer. When you are baptized into Christ, you put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). The name “Christian” is not a label to be worn only on Sunday mornings or only with certain groups of friends. When we put on Christ, we represent Him in every area of our lives – in what we wear, what we say, and where we go.
If we allow Christ to clothe us, we will have garments of salvation and robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Salvation and righteousness are certainly labels we should be proud to wear and to share with those around us.
As you go through your daily life, you may wear the names of many different designers and you may feel a certain amount of pride when someone notices the name on the buckle of your handbag. But the physical garments we wear, regardless of the brand, will someday fade, tear or go out of style as worldly things tend to do.
Instead of collecting more name-brand treasures to lay up upon this earth, let us clothe ourselves with the salvation found in Christ and lay up our treasures in Heaven. For as Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
By Valerie Enoch
Originally printed in the Winter 2009 issue
Water is necessary for our physical lives. Throughout the Bible, we read of many people who
were saved physically when God provided the right water for them at the right time in their
See if you can locate the scriptures that describe how these people were saved by water.
1. Hagar’s son
3. Children of Israel
4. Noah’s family
*Answers provided to the right under the picture
Water plays an important part in our spiritual salvation as seen in Acts 8 with the Ethiopian
Eunuch and in Acts 10 with Cornelius and his household.
According to John 3:5, except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. I
Peter 3:21 tells us plainly that baptism saves us, and although baptism does involve going down into the water,
we do much more than wash away the filth on our flesh. When you enter the waters of baptism, you bury
your old self (Rom. 6:4) so that you can be raised to walk a new life.
1. Genesis 21
2. Exodus 2
3. Exodus 14, 15, 17
4. I Peter 3:20
5. 2 Kings 5:11
The Old Testament contains many examples that can provide much food for thought. In 2 Kings Chapter 3, Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, the kings of Israel and Judah, decide to unite together against the common enemy of Moab. They head into the battle without much planning and before they even see the face of the enemy, they find themselves in danger due to a lack of water. Weakened by thirst, they will be easy prey for the Moabites. King Jehoshaphat decides to inquire of the Lord and asks the prophet Elisha for his help in communicating with God.
God tells them that even though they will not see wind or rain, he will provide them with water to drink, both for the people and their cattle and beasts. But to try their faith and obedience, he commands that they first make the valley full of ditches to receive the water.
Because of their obedience, God’s people were blessed ‐ not only with the water they desperately needed, but God also delivered the Moabites into their hand. Scripture tells us that this was but a light thing in the sight of the Lord (2 King 3:18). God’s blessings are given freely and richly, often much more than we could even ask for or think of. His blessings often out‐do our own requests and expectations.
However, if we hope to receive God’s blessings, we must first make room for them in our lives. Before receiving water from God, the Israelites first had
to prepare room for it by creating ditches for the water to fill. The people were given plentiful water, but not by rain. The water was provided in God’s
own way, according to His plan.
We sometimes fill our lives so full of worry, doubt, and troubles that we leave little room for the abundant blessings that God wants to send to us. Whenever you ask for God’s help, don’t forget to take the time to dig a few ditches first and make room for the blessings He will send.
By Valerie Enoch