Choosing a Marriage Partner

Most couples dearly love one another, but have a hard time expressing their deepest feelings. They desperately want their mate to know and love them, but have no clue how to show or share their feelings. We take each other for granted and settle into a stale rut. The old joke states, “I told you that I love you when I married you; and if I change my mind, I will let you know.”

Unrealistic expectations prior to marriage often ruin a couple’s chance at happiness in the marriage. No one can possibly live up to the fairy tale romance we dream about or be the person someone else expects us to be. Many people think that they will change their mate once they get married. One man put it this way, “Honey, what you see is what you get. I’m not changing for anyone or for any reason.”

We end up frustrated, angry, resentful and feeling hopeless, because we are always arguing. If we realize that we are both human, we can both relax a bit. We all have foibles and idiosyncrasies, which make us the unique person that we are. Rather than insisting on our own way, we can find a third choice, which meets both of our needs.

The key to a happy marriage is honest communication. Not brutal honesty, but loving, confident, uncritical expressions of what we want and need. We do not like to guess what our mate expects or is thinking. It puts undo stress on a couple to try to predict what gift our mate wants for special occasions or what behavior they are expecting from us. ( http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ )

There are realistic expectations for marriage, however. We need the same goals, dreams and principles. We need to have similar ideas on raising children, where to worship and how to spend money. We need to laugh together, play together and cry together. We need someone who will accept us as we are and who will support us through the hard times, someone who will love us for a lifetime.

Prayer:
Father God, we know without a doubt that Your love for us is the most fulfilling and the most urgent of our human needs. You do not love us for how we perform, because You loved us while we were still depraved sinners (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). You gave us the desire to love and to be loved. Remind us to seek Your will for our potential mate and to receive Godly counsel before making the final decision. Thank You for never leaving or forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5).

Thought for the Day:
Both men and women thrive on praise and affirmation, rather than on criticism and unrealistic expectations. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Friend of God

So many people are so burdened by what they want, and don’t have; rather than being thankful for what they have, that they never knew they wanted! The more we complain, the less joy we experience each day. However, the more we give thanks, even for the negative issues of life, the more we live in peace and contentment.

This goes against our normal, human behavior. We almost feel dishonest to say that we are fine when we know we have something negative going on in our life. However, this earthly realm is not reality. Paul said it best. We brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing with us in the end, so we can live in Godly contentment (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

In fact, giving God the first fruits of our time, love, esteem and attention decreases our trials as it honors God with the praise that is due His name (Psalm 69:30). God supplies all of our needs – physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually (1 Timothy 6:8). This allows us to give thanks for anything life throws at us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

As we view our trials as joyous opportunities to enjoy intimacy with God, we watch His miraculous provision for us in and through them. This allows patience to have time to perfect our soul – our mind, will and emotions (James 1:2). Our faith grows during trials, as we see God’s mighty hand working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). God is awesome, generous, full of loving kindness and the best friend we will ever have.

Prayer:
Father God, our unity with Your Spirit will enable us to hear Your voice to deal with lost glasses, what to fix for dinner, what to take with us before we leave the house and how to witness to the crying lady sitting across from us in the doctor’s office. Just a few moments of refocusing in Your presence will make all the difference in our positive attitude. Your faithfulness is our measuring rod, and Your friendship means more to us than we could ever express in words.

Thought for the Day:
What a privilege it is to live our days as a friend of God, because this relationship brings so many benefits to our life; some are even “out of this world”! – John 15:14-15

Internal Investigation

Most people fly through life without any consideration of what is affecting their body, thoughts and feelings. One way to change this negligent behavior is to pay closer attention to them. If we write down the thoughts occupying our mind, the pains in our body and any negative emotions we experience, they reveal secrets to us.

How does your body feel? What is your soul experiencing? What is your spiritual temperature, hot or cold or…lukewarm? (Revelation 3:16) Performing a thorough internal investigation of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state permits us to pray about what to do about them.

Negative emotions are always a signal that something deeper is the culprit. Our physical health even affects our thoughts and emotions, and vice versa. When we analyze the conversations going on in our head among our various ego states, then we can decide what is bothering us and hear the Holy Spirit’s direction on what to do to resolve the problems.

We have the choice to play the role of victim and to concede to our spiritual, physical or emotional ailments; to fight how we feel; to ignore the red flags raised in our soul; or to follow the advice of the Serenity Prayer and change or surrender to God the issues distressing us.

There is no way to change another person’s mind or actions without his or her consent; so, prayer and God’s Word allow us to gain God’s wisdom and perspective on our concerns. This is the only way to survive in this world. If God does not show us how to change our circumstances, then we ask Him to help us; and He always does.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that as we put our cares in Your capable hands, that You will deal with them or show us what to do about them, because You truly care about us (1 Peter 5:7). You give us Your joy as our strength, even in the most negative of circumstances. Some issues are our responsibility, and some are beyond our control. We praise You for, in and through every aspect of our life. Thank You for showering us with Your serenity and joy, and for working out everything for our good (Romans 8:28).

Thought for the Day:
Changing our focus about our issues will bring us unimaginable and glorious freedom from our circumstances, even if they never change; as well as joy in spite of them.

Victory through Life and Death

When we are Born Again by the blood of the Lamb, God’s Spirit replaces the carnal nature in our soul with the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:3-4; Galatians 2:20). He is constantly perfecting us by His Spirit who abides in our spirit. He takes away our desire to sin, and unrighteous living no longer appeals to us.

God’s Spirit helps our weaknesses and illnesses. He searches our heart and knows our mind; then He prays for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27). Prayer is speaking to God from our heart. Ritualistic prayers and formulas for prayer are unnecessary. God already knows our heart and wants to hear our own words (Ephesians 1:18).

God also places His prayer burdens on our heart for the lost people groups in our world, for the persecuted church, for those burdened by illness, for people devastated by the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, our unsaved loved ones, etc. Prayer prepares us for victory both in life and in death. Jesus removed the sting of death, and gave authentic Believers the victory over it through His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8).

In fact, there is greater benefit for us to go Home to the glory of Heaven than to continue living life here on this sin-cursed earth. Dying is not the travesty of life; it is the benefit of a life lived in Christ. What the world views as death is actually victory to God and is used by God for our ultimate good, because God rejoices in the death of His Saints (Romans 8:28; Psalm 116:15).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You that, through Christ, death is swallowed up in victory. We know that Your Holy Spirit works in our heart, until the glorious day when either Christ returns for His Bride, or we come through the valley of death into Your glorious light (1 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 60:1). Remind us not to limit You by our thoughts and fears, but teach us to pray the words, which Your Spirit inspires us with and with which He breaks our heart (Romans 8:26).

Thought for the Day:
Once we realize our human limitations, we will rely on God’s Spirit to pray through us during our life and escort us through death to our heavenly Home in glory. – Romans 8:26-34; 2 Corinthians 5:1

Connecting with God

People often wonder why God will not answer their prayers. They accuse Him of not caring about them (1 Peter 5:7). It could be that we do not have a personal relationship with Him and He does not know us (Matthew 7:21-23). Sin may be blocking God from hearing our words or tainting the message of our prayer. Possibly, we do not spend enough time listening in order to hear His voice.

God answers our prayers with a “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Our Father knows the end from the beginning and knows what is best for us (Isaiah 46:10). He is not spiteful or vindictive. He does not punish us. He will discipline His children; but though He wounds, He always heals (Job 5:18). He will also heal our land, if His Saints will humble themselves and pray (2 Chronicles 7:14; Ezekiel 22:30).

A lack of a personal relationship with God (John 3:18), sinful behavior or a hectic lifestyle with little prayer and devotion hinder our ability to connect with God (Isaiah 59:2). Only repentance cleanses us as we confess our failings (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2). With intimate times of prayer, we have more power to stand against spiritual warfare, trials and temptations (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

King David realized that God did not want sacrifice from us as much as He wanted obedience and devotion (Hebrews 10:8-9). God would rather have us praying than working for Him without His Spirit’s direction. He created works for us to do, but we will only know what they are as we pray (Ephesians 2:10). God’s truest desire is that we love Him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength (Luke 10:27).

Prayer:
Father God, we ask You to fill us with a deep desire and hunger to know You more and to connect with You through our prayer life and Bible study. Our heart thirsts after You, like the deer pants for water (Psalm 42:1). Fill us with Your Holy Spirit every day and cause us to hear Your loving kindness each new morning (Ephesians 5:18-19; Psalm 143:8). Teach us to use Your Word to pray effectual prayers.

Thought for the Day:
If we remain connected to God, we will bear fruit for His Kingdom; but apart from Him, we can do nothing. – John 15:5-8

Joyful Thanksgiving

Joyful Thanksgiving

We each suffer terrible trials during our lifetime. We are ridiculed, rejected, abused, accused, deprived, discouraged, denied, and broken when we experience various levels of disaster and disease. Only by the power of God’s Spirit within us can we praise when we want to fight or run away.

God advises us to praise Him during these appalling times, because God is in them with us. He never leaves us, so our joy is always complete (Hebrews 13:5; John 15:11). We can give thanks for every trial, because it cannot come to us unless He allows it, and because He reduces its negative effect on us (Romans 8:28).

God calls His children to live with gratitude to Him in our heart through every situation we experience (James 1:2-5; Hebrews 12:3-13; 1 Peter 2:20-21). The Spirit teaches us that our joy does not depend on our circumstances, but simply on the fact that we are constantly in the presence of Christ.

Jesus allowed His own body to be broken (Isaiah 53:10-11). Yet prior to his torture and crucifixion, he gave thanks for God’s mercy in His life and for His hope of our everlasting existence (Luke 22:19;). He knew this was the only way to forgive our sins, so He suffered and died in our place (Philippians 2:11, John 15:11; Psalm 16:11).

Jesus is our only way, truth and life (John 14:6). Our most shattering experience and most dreadful day are God’s best tools to increase our intimate relationship with Him. In our gratitude, we sing songs of praise to the Lord and serve Him with His joy in our heart (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Lord is God, and He made us; so we belong to Him. The Psalms are full of reasons to give thanks to God (Psalm 30, 50, 69, 92, 95, 105, 118, etc).

Prayer:
Father God, we always give thanks to You, in the name of Jesus, for everything; even the negative aspects of our life (Ephesians 5:20). Whatever occurs is from You for the purpose of bringing our body, soul or spirit is line with Your perfect will for us. Through Christ, even when we are out of human options and feeling abandoned, we continually offer the sacrifice of praise to You with words inspired by thanksgiving for all You already did, as well as what You will continue to do for us (Hebrews 13:15).

Thought for the Day:
We begin all of our prayers with words of thanksgiving and praise, because God is good and His mercy and truth are everlasting. – Psalm 100

The Gift of God’s Presence

A shooting star, a sale at the store on the exact item you need, a flower growing in the sidewalk crack, a simple solution for a giant problem, and so many more examples are all revelations of God’s goodness – a special kiss from Him just for us. He even uses a quick glance at a clock, with a special arrangement of the numerical order, to give me special hugs throughout the day.
( http://carm.org/what-biblical-numerology )

We do not need to earn the gift of salvation, because it is a free gift through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). However, the gift of God’s presence entails our obedience and love for Him. Walking in God’s Spirit allows us to maintain this constant communion with Him (Galatians 5:16-25). We walk in fulfillment and find joy in the simplest revelation of His goodness.

We must guard against allowing the good activities, which we are invited to participate in, from becoming the enemy of God’s best for us. The frantic pace of our world thwarts us from enjoying a contented life in God’s presence. The good people and events, which demand our attention, are robbing us of quality time with God, His Word and His perfect will.

Our hectic lifestyle prevents us from entering into the rest of God’s presence (Hebrews 13:5). It is only as we love the Lord with our entire heart, having no idols in His place and ordering our steps to seek Him throughout the day, that He will provide His guidance and protection while showering us with His peace and love (Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 62:5-8).

Prayer:
Father God, what you desire from us more than anything else is for us to love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Remind us to walk in Your Spirit’s filling, which is new every day, and to live in the center of Your will. Help us not to forget that only one thing is needed in this life, and Mary made the better choice. Thank You for promising never to take away from us our intimacy with You (Luke 10:42).

Thought for the Day:
At times, we cannot hear God’s voice, due to the roar of people’s expectations requiring our time and talents.

The Sin unto Death

God is faithful and just, and He forgives every sin, for which we repent. Unrighteousness is sin. God cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This sin does not lead to our eternal death (1 John 5:16-17). We sincerely repent and He casts our sin as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He remembers it no more (Hebrews 8:12).
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Bible (See former post); however, there is also a “sin unto death” (1 John 5:16-17). This person chooses to abide in a sinful lifestyle rather than living the holy life, where God calls us to reside, and he/she refuses to repent (1 Peter 1:16).

God will continually convict and draw this individual back to Himself, but if there is no repentance, then God will take this person out of the world, cutting his/her life short. This is not referring simply to spiritual death, because we are all already born with our spirit dead in sin. 1 John is not simply referring to spiritual death, but also to physical death (1 John 1:1-2; 2:25; 3:14-15; 4:9; 5:11-13).

Authentic believers do sin occasionally (1 John 1:7, 1:9, 2:1, 5:16); however, we do not persevere in disobedient behavior (1 John 2:4). Those who persistently walk in sin and darkness, while claiming to know the truth and to be in the light, who hate Christ and His followers and who deny that Jesus is God who came in the flesh as our Messiah, are in danger of committing the sin unto death (1 John 1:6, 2:9, 2:22).

Prayer:
Father God, we live with the confidence that You will answer our requests when they are prayed according to Your will (1 John 5:14-15). You always answer our fervent, effective prayers (1 John 3:21-22, 4:16-17). Teach us to honor You with our thoughts, words and actions, so that we will never bring shame on Your name. Thank You for the multitude of blessings that You share with us each day.

Thought for the Day:
We tremble before the Lord in reverence and awe, worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness. – Psalm 96:9

Effective Prayer

The Body of Christ performs a vital ministry for our spiritual life. As we confess our sins to each other, we hold one another accountable. Also, prayer unites the Body of Christ more deeply than any other spiritual discipline. When we pray for each other, we are healed. There is no disputing the fact that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).

A wonderful way to learn God’s Word, and to gain the insight of Saints who already walked the same path, in the season of life in which we are living, is called discipleship. However, there is no better source of discipleship than sitting at Jesus feet (Luke 10:38-42). Through prayer and by reading His Word, God’s Spirit teaches us all things (1 John 2:27).

Our developing relationship with God gives us a more intense desire for holiness, as we realize how deeply our behavior affects our witness and our relationship with our Lord. The clearer we hear God speak to us, the more closely we can follow His voice in our daily life (James 1:5; Jeremiah 29:13; John 10:27). Otherwise, we suffer from impaired spiritual hearing (Matthew 11:15).

God lives in us and we are as close to Him as is possible; but we can form a deeper, more personal bond with Him by spending more time hanging out in His presence. Intimate communication in our prayer closet allows our relationship with God to deepen, because we are spending quality time with our Father (Matthew 22:37; John 17:3).

Prayer:
Father God, You are never far from us. We, however, allow the busyness of life to drown out Your voice and to rob us of our intimate times with You. Remind us to pay attention to You in every moment of every day, so that You can approach us more intimately than ever before (James 4:8). You will fill us with more of Your holiness, as well as Your Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Then we will walk in Your power and victory over sin, the world and Satan (John 14:12-14; Acts 1:8).

Thought for the Day:
New Testament Saints made prayer a priority; why don’t we?
– Acts 1:14

Powerless to Control Life

We usually start life under the assumption that we can achieve the American dream, but life often careens out of our control. We eventually admit that we are ultimately powerless to overcome the negative aspects of our life, and we realize that we need a Savior outside of our self (Romans 7:18).

First, we attempt to trust in a person to bail us out. We get into codependent relationships that seem to stifle us in the end. In order to reinstate our sanity, we eventually realize that we must come to believe in a power, which is greater than anything this world has to offer (Philippians 2:13).

Some people try Eastern religions, positive thinking or something that epitomizes wholeness to them. This lasts for a little while, but often fizzles out. Everyone ever born has an innate knowledge of God within his or her soul, yearning for their spirit to be reborn (Romans 1:19-23). We all have a body and soul – our mind, will and emotions, but our spirit is dead until we come to Christ (John 3:1-21).

Once we come to Christ, He helps us to clear our conscience of dead works. Feelings of unforgiveness, anger, resentment, bitterness and more melt away at His presence in our life. He also helps us to think of people to whom we need to ask forgiveness, and He helps us to make amends for the harm we perpetrated on their life (Lamentations 3:40; Luke 6:31; Matthew 5:23-24).

It is wise to obtain Christian counseling and discipleship, and to share with someone who will continually hold us accountable as we walk in God’s Truth (James 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:12). As we humble our self before the Lord, He replaces our moral deficiencies with the fruit of His Spirit (James 4:10; Galatians 5:22-23). He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that no one is perfect. We can forgive those who harm us and ask forgiveness from those whom we hurt. As we pray and read Your Word, draw us closer to You, tell us Your Will for our life each moment and give us the power to carry it out (Philippians 2:12-13; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:16). Thank You for totally forgiving us for our transgressions of Your ways. Sanctify us daily as we walk toward Your perfection (1 John 1:9; Matthew 5:48).

Thought for the Day:
Nothing but living in service to Jesus Christ can fill the void that continually haunts our life. – Romans 12:1