Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Mary Is a Trusting Woman

Leslie Basham: What makes your husband qualified to lead your family? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s not a matter of how much your husband knows compared to how much you know about the Bible. The issue is, are you willing to let him take spiritual leadership in the home under God’s authority? And do you make it easy or hard for your husband to lead your family?

Leslie: Merry Christmas. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, December 25, 2014.

Do you trust God with your future? Hear an example of a woman who trusted God, as Nancy continues in the series "Mary of Nazareth."

Nancy: Have you ever had the experience of learning something from the Word of God, of getting what you thought was a great spiritual insight or perhaps something you thought God wanted your family to do? And then you went and shared it with your husband and found out that he just didn’t get it, that it didn’t mean to him what it did to you?

How do you find yourself feeling in a situation like that? And more important than how you feel, how do you respond in a situation like that?

We’re looking at the life of Mary of Nazareth—Mary the mother of Jesus. I want us to see an instance in her life when God showed her an incredible spiritual insight, if you will, but her husband-to-be just didn’t get it. I think that how she responded in this situation gives us as women insight about how we need to respond when those we love may not see things just as we do.

We’re looking at qualities in Mary’s life, qualities of a woman who is used by God. As I look at Mary in Matthew chapter 1, I see that she is a trusting woman. This is her response to the kind of situation we just described. Let me read beginning in Matthew 1:18.

This is how the birth of Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly (vv. 18–19).

Of course in that day, when they were engaged, they were considered married. For him to divorce her meant he had to find out that during that engagement period, she had been morally unfaithful.

So here Mary has had this great experience where an angel has appeared to her and said, “Though you’re a virgin, though you’ve never been intimate with a man, you’re going to have a child; and this child is going to be the Son of God.”

Now, that’s pretty incredible news. And you had to be there to believe it.

Mary saw the angel. Joseph didn’t see the angel. Joseph didn’t have that experience. So when Mary goes to explain to Joseph what’s happened, it’s understandably hard for him to believe.

Often as women, because God made us relational and sensitive, I find that many times we may be sensitive to a matter of spiritual truth before the men around us are conscious of that same spiritual truth. That doesn’t make us more spiritual. It just means that we may be more sensitive.

So what do we do when we sense this great spiritual truth? How do I respond? How did Mary respond?

In this passage we don’t have any suggestion that Mary tried to force Joseph to believe what she had seen. She was quiet. She wisely waited on the Lord to show Joseph what it was that he needed to see.

In God’s time, He sent an angel to Joseph to share with him this good news. That’s what we read as we continue in the text.

After he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (vv. 20–21).

So what did Mary do? She gave God time—time to speak to her husband, time to lead her husband. She knew that if what she had seen was true—and she didn’t doubt it for a moment—then in God’s time and in His way, God would show her husband what he needed to see.

We as women are born fixers. We’re born controllers. We’re born manipulators.

We often feel it’s our task, our responsibility to make everyone else around us understand and see what it is that we’re so sure we’ve seen. And in some cases we’re right about what we’ve come to understand of the ways of God.

But so often I find myself being impatient and unwilling to wait on God to reveal those same truths in the lives of those I love. It’s so hard for me—do you ever find this to be true for yourself?—to relinquish control, to let it go, to wait on the Lord and to trust that He will act.

Last week I had a conversation with a wife who recently discovered that over a period of years her husband had built up a $30,000 credit card debt. She was devastated.

She shared with me that her first reaction was to be very angry with her husband. “How could you do this to us?”

Her next reaction was to try to fix it. “Here’s what you need to do. We need to consolidate this.” Her instinct was to pull in the reins and try and do damage control.

But she’s a woman who walks with God. She’s a woman who knows the ways of God.

As God began to work in her heart, she realized that she could not change her husband’s heart. Her husband is a believer, but he wasn’t nearly as quick as she was to want to repent of this debt and to see the importance of getting it all paid off.

But rather than continue to live in anger, frustration, and a controlling mode, she said, “I realized I had to trust the Lord.”

There’s a book that came out in the year 2000 that became popular. It suggests that a wife is to surrender control to her husband. But there’s a major problem with this author’s way of thinking, because her point is that a wife needs to trust her husband.

The problem is that your husband may or may not be trustworthy. God does not ask you to trust your husband. In fact, the Scripture says that if you trust in man, you’re cursed.

We’re not to trust in men or women. We’re not to trust in ourselves. Our trust is to be in God and God alone.

So my friend whose husband had run up this incredible credit card debt did not need to learn to trust her husband. She needed to learn to trust in God.

The Scripture says that those who trust in the Lord will never be disappointed. So we ask this question:

  • Do you trust God to fulfill His purposes in your life and in the lives of those you love?

It may be your husband; it may be your children. It may be some issues with your parents. It may be issues with a pastor or a friend or an employer or an employee. Do you trust God to fulfill His purposes in your life and in the lives of those you love?

You see, God has a plan not only for that individual, but God has a plan for your life, and He wants to use those very issues that create the rub in your life to develop in you a heart and life that are more like Jesus.

Now, it’s interesting that after Mary’s initial encounter with the angel, from that point on, as far as we know in the Scripture, God’s direction for Mary’s life came to her not through an angel but through her husband. As we look to the text here in Matthew 2, we’re going to see that Mary let Joseph lead.

I think this must have been difficult for her, having had this experience with the angel where God had come and given her this direct revelation early on in her life. Don’t you imagine from that point on it may have been a little tempting to her, when Joseph would say, “We’re moving to Egypt,” to have her say, “God didn’t tell me that”?

But once God had spoken to her directly, she submitted herself to the will of God and realized that from that point on, God’s leadership in her life was coming to her through her husband. She let him lead, and as we’re going to see in this text, she followed his leadership.

I’m beginning in Matthew 2:13.

When [the magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt (vv. 13–14).

Can you imagine your husband coming home and saying, “God told me that we’re supposed to move to a city on the other side of the continent tonight”? Can you imagine your response with no preparation, no warning?

I’m not suggesting that that would necessarily be the best way for a husband to announce news. But in this case, this was a matter that God knew was urgent, and Mary was willing to follow the leadership of the husband God had given her, trusting that God was speaking to her husband.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream again to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead." So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel (vv. 19–20).

We see here one of God’s key ingredients for harmony in the home. In God’s ideal plan:

  • The husband listens to God and says, “Yes, Lord, I will do it Your way.”
  • Then communicates with his wife God’s instructions.
  • Together they obey the will of God.

Now, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t speak to women. It doesn’t mean that Mary didn’t continue to have need for her own personal relationship with God. But she realized that once she became married, they were one flesh, and God was typically going to lead their family through the leadership of her husband.

What impresses me about Mary is that she was willing to let this man be the leader under God’s authority. Often it’s easy for us as women to feel that we are more spiritual or more qualified to lead than the men around us. This really goes back to Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden, where we find that incredible role reversal.

The serpent, Satan, the enemy, came not to the man but to the woman there in the Garden of Eden and said, “Have you considered the fruit of this tree? Have you considered that perhaps God’s commands may not be good for you? Perhaps God is not good in limiting you from eating of this tree.”

Why didn’t Satan approach the man? Satan was reversing God’s intended plan for the home by approaching the woman. As you read the text, you find that Eve’s husband was there with her in the Garden. But the serpent just ignored the man.

Do you know who else ignored the man in that moment? Eve did. She didn’t turn to her husband—at least in the Scripture there’s no evidence that she did—and say, “How do you think we ought to handle this? How does this fit with what God has shown you in the past?”

Independently, she chose to listen to the serpent. He said this would be good for her. She saw that the fruit was attractive to the eyes; it was pleasing to the senses.

She chose to obey what seemed right at the moment rather than what God had already said was right. She followed the leadership of someone other than her husband and her God.

As a result, we end up in this situation today where women are wanting men to be leaders but refusing to let them be leaders in so many cases. So many times it’s easy for us as women to feel that we may be more qualified to provide spiritual leadership.

There are a lot of Bible studies and small groups available to us as women today that many men are not able to take advantage of. I think in some cases husbands and men feel, “I could never lead these women spiritually. I’d have to go back to Seminary and get a PhD.”

It’s not a matter of how much your husband knows compared to how much you know about the Bible. The issue is:

  • Are you willing to let him take spiritual leadership in the home under God’s authority?
  • Do you make it easy or hard for your husband to lead your family?

It does come back to this issue of trust. Do you trust God? You may be thinking, “My husband isn’t much of a spiritual man. He doesn’t seek the Lord.”

That’s where your trust is in the Lord. You say, “Lord, would You directly move through this man to accomplish Your purposes in our home?”

Your husband may not be a man of God. Your husband may not even be a believer.

  • Do you trust that God is bigger than your husband?
  • Do you trust that God is the supreme authority over your home and that He is able to move through your husband to accomplish His purposes in your family?
  • Do you trust God to lead through the authorities He has placed in your life? Or do you make it difficult for those authorities to lead?

How do we make it difficult for our authorities to lead us? I know one way is by being like Ford. We always have a “better idea.”

When that man—that husband, that pastor, that spiritual leader—has input, are you quick to say, “Oh, but I think we should . . .” or “But it seems to me that the better way would be . . .”

This can so easily intimidate the men around us and make them give up, which I think in part is what perhaps Adam did there in the Garden of Eden. “You want to take charge here? I’ll let you.”

Men are not likely to insist that they provide leadership if we make it difficult for them to do so. So when that husband, that spiritual leader, that human authority gives direction, do you find yourself being responsive, yielding, having a submissive spirit? Or do you find yourself sometimes being resistant, stubborn, difficult to work with?

That doesn’t mean that the authority is always right. In fact, sometimes they won’t be. And that’s when we make our appeal, first to God, who is big enough to change the heart of that authority.

Proverbs 21:1 tells us that the king’s heart is in the Lord’s hands, and God turns that heart in whatever way He wants to.

Do you find yourself first going to God and saying, “Lord, it doesn’t seem to me that this direction is in accordance with Your will, but I trust You to work in the heart of this authority [this king, if you will] to move his heart in accordance with Your will”?

Then, in a spirit of humility, go to that authority, after you’ve given God time to move and to act and to change his heart, and make an appeal to that human authority—in a spirit of humility and cooperation, with a heart that says, “I want us to be one. I want us to walk in harmony. I don’t want to be resistant. I want to be a woman who is willing to follow.”

I’ll be quick to say, this is not a natural way of thinking and living. This does not come naturally for me, to yield, to bend, to be flexible to the direction of others. But the Holy Spirit working within us can give us the power and the desire, the enabling to live this submitted, trusting life.

There’s another quality in the life of Mary that I believe is such an important calling for all of us women. When we come to the first chapter of the book of Acts, we find the believers in Jesus, about 120 of them, gathered in an upper room after Jesus has died and been resurrected and ascended back into heaven.

These believers are now gathered together in a prayer meeting—a prayer meeting that became the birthing room for the early church. Scripture tells us that the believers “joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14).

Then Luke gives us this little detail that I think is so significant: “[The believers] all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

That’s significant because, in the culture in which Mary lived, women typically would not have been welcome in this kind of meeting. But the early church realized that it was not just men who were to pray—it was men and women who were to pray.

I’m so glad Luke gives us this little detail, that Mary was one of the women who was there. Mary was probably a widow by this time, but her usefulness was not over. She still had ministry ahead, even though Jesus her son had gone back to heaven, even though her husband had probably died. God still had a plan and a use for her life.

She continued daily in prayer with that small band of believers, waiting on God to send His promised Holy Spirit who would then enable these believers to take the gospel of Christ out into the known world.

Women, I think we cannot begin to imagine the influence God would have on others’ lives through our lives if we would become, like Mary the mother of Jesus, women of prayer.

Now, it’s important to pray alone, to have those quiet times with the Lord where it’s just us and the Lord, in that closet that Jesus spoke about. But I see in Mary someone who knew it was also important to come together with other believers to pray and to believe God to fulfill His eternal purposes here in this world.

In those kinds of prayer meetings, we “link arms” with omnipotence, and we cry out to God to do what He is longing to do already in this world.

I hope this will not sound disrespectful, but sometimes I just picture God kind of standing on the front porch of heaven, waiting to pour into our world the greatest revival, the greatest spiritual awakening, the greatest harvest of souls for the kingdom of Christ that the world has ever experienced.

I picture Him sometimes waiting with the outpouring of His Holy Spirit in His hands, eager, desirous, longing to pour it out but waiting to see if we long for it enough to pray for it. Women praying together have often been the instruments God has used to bring about some of the great revivals in our world.

I think of two elderly sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith. They lived on the island of Lewis just off the coast of Scotland. They were in their late eighties.

Peggy was blind. Her sister Christine was crippled with arthritis. They couldn’t even leave their little house to go out and attend the village church. But they knew how to pray, and they knew the desperate spiritual condition there on that island.

They knew that people were churched and religious but that there was no spiritual life. They knew that the young people had no heart for the things of God.

These two women knew God. They knew that God was able to transform their community, to breathe life into these dead and dying churches. But they knew they needed to pray.

When they couldn’t do anything else, when they had no other visible means of usefulness and fruitfulness, they knew their greatest fruitfulness was in that prayer closet. So they joined together there in that cottage and cried out to God to send revival to the island of Lewis.

This was in about 1949. In 1950 God did send a man to that island who was greatly used as an instrument of what is today still spoken of as the Great Lewis Revival, there in the Scottish highlands.

In the history books of revival, you will often read the name of that man, Duncan Campbell, who was used of God in such a significant way. You don’t as often read about Peggy and Christine Smith.

But I believe that in the history books of heaven, when the real story is told, it will be those women that God will say were the ones who cried out to Him and whose prayers He heard and answered and responded to by sending a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.

Are you a woman of prayer? I know that if you’re a mother, you pray. There’s nothing like a mother’s heart that feels intensely the need to cry out to God in prayer on behalf of her children.

  • Do you pray about the issues of God’s kingdom in this world? 
  • Do you find yourself joining together with other believers to pray for revival in the church, to pray for the evangelization of our world, to pray that God’s name will be reverenced in this world, to pray that His kingdom will come and that His will will be done here on earth as it is in heaven?

That’s an unseen, unsung, “unapplauded” ministry. But there may be no greater, higher calling that you have as a woman of God.

Leslie: If you want to do something great for God’s kingdom this Christmas day, it might be done on your knees. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing the power of a woman’s prayer.

If you’re interested in the revival Nancy mentioned earlier with Duncan Campbell on the isle of Lewis, I hope you’ll read more at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, you know those books and websites that let you look up the meaning of names? If you search for the word Mary, you’ll probably find out that it means “bitter” or “sorrowful.”

Does that describe Mary the mother of Jesus? Yes and no. Find out more tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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