A Good Marriage – A Time of Separation

Are you considering a divorce? Disappointments, broken promises, resentment, anger, etc. will tear down bridges of positive feelings, and erect walls that separate us and get thicker and higher with each passing day.

 

Humility and forgiveness are the only keys to unlock the doors between us. Pride will forever slam the doors shut. When God joins us together, it is for life. There is no reason for divorce, when a separation is just as effective.

 

We can take it upon our self to move in with a family member, get an apartment, sleep in a different bedroom, etc. This gives us and our spouse some space to cool off, think about our issues, forgive and apologize, and date – have fun and laugh together.

 

We slowly resolve issues that are trying to tear us apart. We pray together to hear from God and determine to do His will. We do not insist on our own way, but we work together to find a third option when we disagree about something.

 

Sin begets more and deeper sins (Genesis 4:6-7). If we allow negative emotions and thoughts to fuel our decisions and behavior, we are already getting in over our head. If we do not take action (Philippians 4:8), a negative spiral of thoughts and emotions will control our life.

 

As authentic Believers, we can follow the leading of God’s Spirit and share our faith journey with our spouse, fellow-believers and trusted family members, etc. This helps us to find solutions to issues and to connect with prayer power to help us gain victory over our circumstances.

 

God will also use us to minister to others (Luke 22:31-32) who are experiencing the same issues that we just conquered. This helps them to find healing in much quicker time, if they will learn from our mistakes and triumphs.

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to rule over our negative emotions, to validate our feelings, and then to turn issues over to You to deal with the behavior in our spouse that triggered them. Heal us from past wounds that make us hide behind anger to protect our self. We need You to point out to us every time we are in danger of entertaining negative emotions and thoughts. Help us to overcome them prior to them overcoming us.

 

Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to sanctify us, so that He will replace our human tendencies with His spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). Remind us that journaling our undesirable feelings, or sharing with a trusted prayer partner will help us to diffuse these troubling moods before we blow up. Then we can meet with our mate and rationally express how their behavior made us feel. We praise You for caring about every aspect of our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we are hurt, broken, overwhelmed, discouraged, etc, we can remember that God cares about us even more than we care about our self; and He will show us a positive manner in which to kindly share our honest feelings with our spouse.

 

 

Advertisements

When Life Gets Out of Control

I do not like “life” dealing my cards to me. I always wanted to have control over the issues of my life. I struggled endlessly to keep my situation peaceful and joyful, but life kept happening according to its own subversive strategy.

 

Through an abusive and emotionally-distant childhood, as well as an emotionally neglectful and distant first marriage, my body and soul suffered lasting damage. As I raised my three children, I decided that I no longer wanted to suffer through life as a victim.

 

I knew that I wanted to control the “temperature” of my circumstances like a thermostat, instead of simply registering the current climate like a thermometer and going along with the flow. Initially, I continued to put up with negative treatment.

 

However, when I could not stand it any longer, I made a choice to use intimidation, manipulation, and/or dominating behavior with others to insure that I felt safe. I was tired of reaping the consequences of other people’s choices.

 

Controlling people are scared and scarred individuals who are just trying to survive in this world. They are attempting to keep themselves safe from a wounded and broken existence, by controlling the uncontrollable.

 

I usually used anger to protect myself. I blew up like a volcano – screaming my feelings at the top of lungs in my attempt to be taken seriously. My burst of unexpected anger usually got everyone’s attention, but left scars on their souls.

 

Not that I belittled or cursed at them, but that the intensity of my anger wounded them. My eruption was short lived, but fierce in intensity. The negative aspect of my attempts to control life cost me my first marriage.

 

Since accepting Jesus at age 18, I have enjoyed God’s gradual healing for me of the effects of my trauma and grief. I am learning so many new healthy ways of dealing with life’s unpredictability.

 

God even introduced me to a wonderful man whom I married. He used my new husband to teach me that I needed to express my feelings before I felt the need to control life by getting angry. So I started doing this.

 

I actually convinced him, that if he would listen and take my words seriously when I confided in him, I would not need to get angry. I learned to say, “Would you please listen to me, or do I need to take out my Italian temper?” This quickly gets his attention.

 

I also convinced him not to make decisions, which involved me in any way, until he first discussed them with me to get my perspective. When his choice and my choice differed, we learned to look for a third option that gave us both peace.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for teaching me to relinquish my life to Your control as You see fit. The only striving I want in my life is to allow Your Spirit to control my thoughts, my emotions, my actions and my words. Thank You for using two wrecks that totaled both cars but spared my life, to finally teach me that life is absolutely out of my control.

 

Only trusting in You, moment by moment throughout the day, will guarantee that regardless of circumstances, You will walk through them with us. As the Lord of peace, You flood our soul with Your peace in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16). Remind me that although circumstances may get out of my control, they are never out of Your control

 

Thought for the Day:

A healthy life requires that we realize that we are only in control of the use of our own resources, time, activities, tongue and emotions; by submitting our will to God’s plan for us individually, we are assured that we will live a Spirit-controlled life.

 

 

Reaping the Rewards of Obedience

So often in life we fail to accomplish some goal that we set for our self, or we fall short of getting that pay raise or promotion that we worked so hard to attain. When we try in our own efforts to succeed, we often fail to achieve the desired results.

 

As branches, connected to the Vine of Christ, we produce the fruit of “repentance from our sins” (Matthew 3:8). We bring God glory with every obedient step we take. Regardless of the outcome of our efforts, He blesses us more than we can imagine.

 

The disciples gave us a great example of obedience. After they fished all night without any success, they returned toward the shore. Jesus called from the shore and instructed them to go back out and to throw in their nets on the right side of the boat.

 

They were tired, hungry and discouraged; yet they obeyed. As a result, they had to get help hauling in all of the fish they caught (John 21:6). The disciples were successful only when they obeyed the Lord.

 

They followed His instructions explicitly and reaped the rewards. Sometimes, we cannot see how the task God gives us fits into His overall plan until years after the event. We suddenly find out how we made a difference.

 

At other times, we will not even know the effect of our obedience until eternity dawns for us, and God opens the eyes of our understanding. This is not important, however. God always blesses our obedience in many ways.

 

Deferred satisfaction provides a way of gaining assured pleasure in the future. It is like making deposits into our savings account. God wants complete devotion to Him from a dedicated heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:33). Sometimes, that is the only result for which He is looking.

 

Prayer:

Father God, the multitude of humanity, who fail to take advantage of the opportunity You give to us to live in Your joy and peace on earth, will spend eternity suffering more than they are ever hurting now (John 3:18). Incalculable anguish and desolation is inevitable in this life, as well as in the next, whenever we live outside of Your unique will for us.

 

Sometimes, people give up after making a few attempts to follow Your will, because they believe that they missed out on some imagined blessing that they counted on receiving (Ecclesiastes 5:1). If they only waited a little longer and walked with You a little further, the effort of their obedience would bring more lasting rewards than reaping the results they were looking for (1 Samuel 13:13).

 

Thought for the Day:

God does not receive pleasure or praise in the results of the humanistic efforts of our plans, goals and accomplishments; instead, He only delights in our obedience to His will.

– 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 51:17; Ephesians 2:8-10

 

Be Angry, but Do Not Sin

Resentment, anger and bitterness in our heart gives Satan a foothold into our thoughts (Hebrews 12:15). He manipulates our beliefs until we think they are true. Then we fall – hook, line and sinker – for his lies.

 

The antidote for this dilemma is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15-16), rather than to nurse our negative emotions and allow them to fester and putrefy our attitude and relationships. This way, we get rid of bitterness, rage, slander, malice and quarrelsome behavior.

 

God cautions us to speak wholesome words in our communication. They build up, rather than tear down, and they do not grieve the Holy Spirit. We forgive rather than to hold grudges or try to get even (Ephesians 4:21-32).

 

We also prevent our human penchant for arguing and misunderstanding by adopting an attitude that is quick to hear, yet slow to speak, slow to make assumptions, and slow to get angry (James 1:19).

 

People will treat and speak to us in ways that assuage their wounds from their past, or in the method that we train them to use with us through our reaction to it. If we allow abuse, it encourages people to manipulate us with it again.

 

Journaling our feelings allow us to use premeditated words to express our honest emotions (Ephesians 5:4). This prevents hasty words full of negative emotions, which put others on the defensive and fuel arguments.

 

God gave us anger to use to protect our self from abuse or danger. It is a red flag that something is wrong in our environment; but He cautions us to be slow to express this powerful emotion, and to guard against using it to sin (Ephesians 4:26).

 

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to use wholesome words in our communication of our feelings and needs to others. Even in the face of a verbal onslaught, we can state our feelings more clearly with firm, calm words, than we can with angry, irrational ones:

  • “I feel afraid when you …”
  • “I feel like you spend more time with …. than with me, and I need more of your attention.”
  • “Thank you for your opinion, but I do not agree with you.”
  • “It is no longer acceptable to me for you to do that (or to say that) to/about me anymore.”
  • “I think that you misunderstood the meaning behind my words/actions. Let me further explain to you how I feel (or why I took that action).”

 

Father, remind us to stand up for our self without using coarse words or hiding behind fierce anger. We still make it known in no uncertain terms that the offensive behavior is no longer acceptable to us; however, we need Your help in order to respond with a confident, businesslike and resolute attitude. We praise You for Your perfecting work in us (Philippians 1:6-8).

 

Thought for the Day:

We cannot control another’s actions or responses towards us, but we can put distance between us and an abusive person; as we take a step back and look at their actions from a spiritual frame of mind, we can pray for them and also about our response to them, so we can speak firmly but kindly in the face of any imposition or attack against us.

– Romans 12:18; Proverbs 25:11, 22

 

 

 

Godly contentment pays big dividends (1 Timothy 6:6-7), yet it is one of the hardest aspects of life to find, to enter, and in which to dwell permanently. There is so much in this world that distracts us from contentment.

 

We hurry and hassle over too many matters that have no eternal consequence or reward. They embroil us in conflict, and overwhelm us in discouragement, bitterness, anger and hopelessness.

 

Jesus promises that in this world, we shall have tribulation (John 16:33). Then He reminds us not to worry, because He abides within us, and He already overcame everything we will ever experience. We can abide in His Godly contentment through it all.

 

Some people lack drive and ambition, and they enjoy a life of idleness, apathy and indifference (Amos 6:1). Others strive to better themselves by taking on more and more and ending up entrapped in over-commitment and anxiety.

 

Whether we live in apathy, or we strive for more, we often end up discontented and unfulfilled. Once we come into the presence of the Lord, however, we cease from our labors and enter into the true Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:10).

 

Contentment does not come naturally for most people. We are born with the desire to want more. As we learn to be content (Philippians 4:11-13), we live a life of accepting with joy whatever struggles or blessings we meet during our day.

 

We allow patience to have her perfecting work in us (James 1:4-12), and we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:15-25), rather than according to our own goals, direction and desires. Contentment comes from living in the center of God’s perfect plans for us.

 

Prayer:

Father God, when we sit contentedly at Jesus’ feet, ready to receive whatever He has for us each day (1 Corinthians 2:9). We show our faith in You by our works of obedience to Your Spirit. This deep, abiding contentment allows us to rejoice in You regardless of our circumstances (Philippians 4:4).

 

We are not anxious, because with gratitude in our heart, we bring every issue that we face before You in prayer (Philippians 4:6). In giving praise to You in every situation that we face, we offer You a fragrant, acceptable and pleasing offering; and in return, You supply all of our needs according to Your glorious riches (Philippians 4:19).

 

Thought for the Day:

By focusing on God’s truth, righteousness and purity, we think only on positive, admirable and noble concepts. This allows the peace of God, which is not influenced by our human perception, to guard our thoughts and emotions in Christ. – Philippians 4:7-8

 

Rescued from the Storms

Ever feel like you are drowning in life’s issues? People often discourage us, abuse us, neglect us, take us for granted, demoralize us, take advantage of our good nature, manipulate us, and tell us lies about our self that we usually believe.

 

Seeing our situation, God reaches down to hold us, to liberate us from our enemies who are too powerful for us to overcome, to support us when others let us down, and to deliver us from a tight fix by putting us in a spacious, freeing and inspiring place in life.

 

When we doubt our value and struggle with our environment, God rescues His Saints from the depth of the sea of negative conditions, and He delights in us (Psalm 18:16-19). His sacrificial love helps us to feel loved, peaceful, joyful, wanted, cared about and cherished.

 

He sends other people and accomplishments into our life to bless us, to fill our heart with acceptance and grace, to teach us new skills, and to build our feelings of self-worth. He accepts us just the way we are. God’s plan for us is the best path for us to take (Psalm 32:8).

 

God continues to make us holy and to fill our life with His purpose, ponderings and priorities. We draw near to Him, and we resist the devil and his lying thoughts and interference in our life. Then, he and his demons have to flee from us (James 4:8).

 

We resist our human penchant to allow times of ministry inactivity, disappointed realities, debilitating issues, etc. in our life to coax us away from our intimacy with God, or to grieve the Holy Spirit by our delving into sinful practices.

 

In God’s presence is fullness of joy forever (Psalm 16:11). Our Father God will eventually reveal His seed for a miracle in every trial. He is in control; and He uses circumstances to perfect us, to prove to us His faithfulness, and to teach us that time is not really relative in our spiritual walk with Him.

 

Prayer:

Father God, hold us close to You, because we know that You will never let us go (Hebrews 13:5). Remind us to simplify our life, to cut back on those commitments we made out of our sense of duty or the kindness of our heart, to find Your purpose for us in those mundane efforts You call us to make in our service to You.

 

We want to trust You in our tragedies too. Remind us that when we feel far from You, gratitude will open Your gates, and praising will bring us right back into Your courts (Psalm 100:4). We want to rejoice in Your love, rather than to mope in depression caused by things not going our way. We rely on Your joy within us as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

 

Thought for the Day:

God’s wisdom, grace, love and supernatural abilities reside within us in Jesus Christ and are always available to meet all of our needs; undistracted devotion to God allows us to tap into all of His power and majesty in order to live our life as Elijah and Enoch did. – 1 Corinthians 1:30

Abiding Union

The Vine existed long before the branches ever grew, and He sacrificially shared His love and life with us (1 John 4:19).

Separated from the Vine, we can do nothing (John 15:5); so we choose to fully commit to our abiding union with the Vine (John 15:16).

 

As God’s Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ, we abide in His abundant love forever. We keep His commandments and love our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors with the love of the Lord (Matthew 22:37-39; John 15:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Romans 1:30).

 

The evidence of our union with the Vine (John 15:13) is our obedience to Him as He gradually renews our heart and replaces in us our negative habits and personality issues with the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

We rest in His grace and renew our strength as we wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31). His Spirit directs us each moment of the day (John 16:13). We increase God’s Kingdom by our obedience to Him and His Word (Mark 4:26).

 

Our Father God is the dresser of the vines. He prunes the branches of all dead limbs in order to improve fruitfulness (John 15:1-6). The fruit that we are called to bear come from God’s Spirit and depend on our relationship with our Vine (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Our connection to the Vine includes our association with, dependence on and endurance through Christ in us. We come to associate with Christ through salvation, we learn to depend on Him rather than on our human resources, and we stand forever through His eternal life in us (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

 

Without connection, there is no salvation; without dependence there is no power, life, supply, competence, etc.; without endurance, there is no everlasting union with the presence of God’s Word – the person of Jesus Christ, who abides within us (John 8:31-32).

 

Prayer:

Father God, Your fruit in our life is proof of our faith in You (James 2:14-26). We abide in You, but You also abide in us, completing the sanctifying work of holiness, which You started in us at salvation (Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13). Let us never break our connection with Your Vine.

 

The life we receive through Your presence in our spirit is not paralleled by anything this world has to offer. Help us to exhibit affection for others, an exuberance about life, serenity through the storms, determination and patience, a compassionate heart, and kindness that pervades our entire being (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Thought for the Day:

We trust that God has this world in His control, and that He has a perfect timetable for its culmination and the renewal of all things; therefore, we commit to live humbly in service to Him and to others, as His Spirit continually guides us through each moment of our life.

– Daniel 4:17; Ephesians 1:11; Romans 10:4