Accountability in Marriage

If a man has no accountability, should his wife hold him accountable?

In my opinion, it depends on what area he needs the accountability. My general counsel is that a wife should NOT serve as her husband’s accountability partner to monitor internet usage. I would encourage the husband to have a couple of other men who ask him the hard questions. Also, “Covenant Eyes” is a software program that provides excellent accountability. At the minimum, I would suggest that the husband have one older man to serve as a mentor who is committed to providing accountability, encouragement and prayer. This friend should be empowered to discuss any issue of concern that he has with the man’s wife.

However, if the issue is a general lack of spiritual leadership in the home, the wife should gently encourage and urge her husband to take the mantle and lead. Wives, you walk a fine line with this. How easy it is to become a nagging and complaining wife. This is extremely repulsive and will serve to demotivate your husband. However, wives, it would be beneficial to ask your husband what you could do to help him to better serve as a family shepherd. State very clearly and specifically what you would like for your husband to do and why. Express up front that you don’t want to nag him. Unfortunately, over the years, I needed several reminders from my wife before I started focusing on my role as the spiritual leader of our family.

Husband, you are the head of your household. Yes, your wife is called to respect and submit to you. However, your leadership is a servant-hearted leadership. You are to gladly do whatever would encourage and build up your wife. The Apostle Paul’s magnificent passage on marriage starts like this: “Submit to one another out of your reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). All of us husbands are to rank ourselves under our wives and work diligently to love, cherish, and serve them.

Husbands, give your wives permission to admonish you. This is a mark of a Christ-like, humble person. Colossians 3:16 calls all followers of Jesus to this ministry: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Wives, it is imperative that your admonition and rebuke comes from Scripture and not from your own wounded pride and preferences that you have. Proverbs 27:6 says that “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Initially, I have always been defensive when my wife comes to admonish me about something I have done or failed to do in my leadership of the family. However, the gospel of God’s grace helps me to pull down my defense shields quicker and seek out the kernels of truth that I need to heed in order to become the man that God wants me to be.

Jesus’ Ultimate Desire for You – Part 2

 

Jesus prays in John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Jesus gives us his reason for why he wants you to be with him: “That they may behold my glory which you have given me…”

Jesus Desires Your Presence so that You Might See His Glory. That all the given ones might dwell in his immediate presence forever in order that they might delight forever in the glory of God in Christ… a vision that begins here on earth (2 Corinthians 3:18) and reaches its climax in heaven.

It is interesting to note that Jesus taught and modeled for his disciples that real glory consists in gladly taking the lowly place and serving others. But here Jesus wants us to see that that is not the whole story. There is coming a day when we will see and experience the transcendent, majestic, awe-inspiring glory of our Lord. It is only as we are with Jesus that we will see and experience this glory.

Well, we must ask ourselves a basic question: What is glory? Glory is the outward radiance of the intrinsic beauty and greatness of Jesus Christ in his manifold perfections. We catch glimpses of His glory during our earthly lives (1:14; 2:11; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:6), but there is a yet more complete vision of his glory that awaits believers. John later says that at his coming “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4).

Since heaven is to be spent beholding and marveling at the glory of Jesus, would pray for the Lord to awaken your desire to behold and experience a taste of His glory and beauty now on earth? Would you pray along with King David: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

Does the desire of the patriarch Job resonate with your spirit? “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

Take a moment to reflect on these words that set forth the desire of the Apostle Paul. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:21,23). “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

One Key Use of John 17:24: Let it comfort you when you are called upon to release someone you love to Jesus at the time of their death. Jesus wants them to be with him. That is why Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” We should see the deaths of our Christian loved ones and of ourselves as the Father’s answer to his Son’s prayer. Jesus is taking his own to be with him where he is and now they behold the fair beauty of their Lord not just by faith but now by sight.

John Knox had this passage of Scripture (John 17) read to him every day while he was on his deathbed. It is not hard to imagine why this last section would have been particularly comforting to him. For here we read of Jesus’ burning passion for our presence. He wants you to be with him and see his glory. Heaven would not be the same with your absence. He makes sure that you not only have the right to heaven but also are made fit for heaven so that you might be by his side. Oh, how he must love you!

 

Scripture Praying from 2 Timothy

The Apostle Paul

  • O Lord, show me how to fan into a white hot flame the spiritual gifts that you have given.
  • O Lord, give me grace to endure all things for the sake of those whom You have chosen here in my city so that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
  • O Lord,strengthen me with Your grace.  Show me how to entrust to faithful men what you have taught me.  Who are the faithful men that you want me to instruct who will be able to teach others?
  • O Lord, make me that worker who has no need to be ashamed.  Through your Spirit, may I study diligently and handle rightly the word of truth (the gospel) to the eternal profit of those who hear me speak.
  • O Lord, make me that vessel for honorable use.  Cleanse me, set me apart, make me useful for the Master, make me ready for every good work.  The greatest need of your church Lord is my personal holiness – from the pen of Robert Murray McCheyne.
  • O Lord, give me the power of godliness.  Help me to never be content with only its appearance.
  • O Lord, make me well acquainted with your Scriptures so that I am wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus and so that I am thoroughly furnished and equipped for every good work.
  • O Lord, may I always be ready, passionate, and zealous for preaching your Word “in season and out of season.”  Show me when to reprove, when to rebuke, and when to exhort.  Help me to do all of this teaching with great patience until Christ is formed in the hearts of my listeners.
  • O Lord, give me the ability to fight the good fight, to finish well my race, and to keep the faith.  May I be one like Paul who longed and loved your appearing.
  • O Lord, keep me safe and rescue me from every evil deed and “bring me safely into (Your) heavenly kingdom.”

Acts 24-26 – Amidst the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

Statue of an archer at Mona Vale.

Vespers Guide – Amidst the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune Click on this link for the complete devotional guide.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:  Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer  The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,  Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?   – William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.

Important: What is happening in these three chapters is a partial fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy (see Mark 13:9-11).

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune come into the lives of God’s faithful people. 

  • From where do they come? In Paul’s case, they come from conflict with the religious establishment and the movers and shakers in the kingdoms of this world.
  • What are some of “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” hurled at the Apostle Paul in these three chapters?
  • He was beaten within an inch of his life. He was continually in danger. He had to listen to vicious and unfair accusations and attacks. He had to stifle his active spirit in order to accept years of imprisonment.
  • On the whim of a dictator, the Apostle Paul is just left in prison in Caesarea.  Acts 24:27 says this: “When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.”
  • It appears on the surface that the worldly ambitious and morally corrupt who set themselves against the Lord and His servants have the upper hand in this life.

How are we to respond?  How do we tend to respond? How do you respond?

  • Frustration
  • Despair
  • Anger
  • Depression

How are we called to respond? What do we learn from the Apostle Paul?

  • Live blamelessly and fearlessly. Acts 24:16 – “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” Acts 25:11 – If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die.
  • Testify courageously to what Christ has done in our lives. Notice the absence of fear. The Apostle Paul was not the less bit intimidated before Felix (chap. 24), Festus (chap. 25) or Agrippa (chap. 26). It is right to speak boldly (26:26) and persuade others to become Christians. For most who remain unresponsive to the gospel, it is a moral problem rather than an intellectual problem (i.e. Felix and Drusilla/ Agrippa II/Bernice).

What empowers us to do this?

  • Remembering who we are. We too, like Paul, are God’s chosen instruments (9:15). This is the third account of Paul’s conversion in the book of Acts (Acts 9, 22, and 26).
  • Remembering what we are called to do. “… to carry His name to the nations.” What is Paul’s commission from Jesus Christ according to 26:15-18? How is the Lord calling you to live as one whom He has sent (John 20:21 – “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”)?
  • Remembering that where God calls He equips. “To this day I have had the help that comes from God” (26:22).
  • Remembering God’s promise of divine protection. “I will deliver you from your people and the Gentiles – to whom I am sending you” (26:17).
  • Remembering the focus of our proclamation of God’s Word (Moses and the prophets point to Jesus Christ, especially His resurrection). “Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles” (26:23).

 

Coram Deo – Devotional Guide through Acts 23

Coram Deo – Acts 23– Click on this hyperlink to the left for a pdf file of this devotional guide.

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase which translated means “in the presence of God.”

To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in God’s presence, under God’s authority, and for God’s glory.

Coram Deo fosters a life of integrity and a clean conscience (v.1).

  • To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos. When we are in right relationship with God and others, we possess a good conscience.
  • Conscience – Moral awareness. The faculty by which we distinguish between right and wrong. Conscience is an irrefutable testimony to the existence of God. We can sear our consciences and make them dull.
  • How is it that the Apostle Paul had a clear conscience? Paul had a clear conscience with regard to his past sins because of the cross of Jesus Christ, the cross which he proclaimed.
  • Acts 24:16 – “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” 

Coram Deo fosters courage to bear up under hardship (23:1-11).

  • What special encouragement does God give Paul at this time?
  • Let us consider some of the lessons which are implied in this incident.
  • Even God’s most faithful servants suffer discouragement and despair.
  • Encouragement comes ultimately from the Lord. God often uses people to encourage us, but it is God who is the source of all comfort and encouragement. It is in His character, His power, His promises and purposes that we find our hope and comfort (see Romans 5:1-11; 8:18-39; 2 Corinthians 4:16—5:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; 3:16; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 5:10).
  • God often encourages us by reminding us of something we already know, but have either forgotten or doubted. Paul was not told anything new by the Lord, but only assured that what he had already been told was still going to take place.
  • Our encouragement is not rooted in our success, but in our faithfulness – our obedience to the task that God has given us. Paul’s testimony in Jerusalem was not humanly successful, but the Lord told him that he had completed his task of “solemnly witnessing to His cause” in that city. His task was done, and in this Paul could find encouragement.
  • It is encouraging to know that God has a task for us to fulfill, and that He will use us in fulfilling His purposes. Paul’s task of testifying to the gospel in Rome was not yet complete. There is more work to be done. What joy one can have in knowing God, in his grace, has chosen to use us (see 1 Timothy 1;12-17).
  • How has God encouraged you in the past?

Coram Deo fosters hope in a sovereign God who orchestrates the details of our lives (23:12-35).

  • How does God rescue Paul from the guerrilla attempt to kill him?
  • What does this incident reveal about God’s work in the world?
  • What is the basis of your confidence amidst turmoil and trouble?
  • To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. Nothing can come into my life apart from the loving hands of a faithful and good God who providentially controls all.
  • This chapter underscores the sovereign control of God over history, in such a way that men are responsible for their actions, and yet God’s plan that He purposed from eternity past will be carried out. A sovereign God does not need perfect followers in order to achieve His will. He does not even need saints to carry out His purposes. And so God used the apostles, Paul, the elders in Jerusalem, Roman officials, and unbelieving Jews to spread the gospel to the Gentiles as far as Rome.