A Good Marriage – Flexing Our Schedules

View of Ocean during Golden Hour

 

In today’s fast-paced world, we often discover that our spouse is too busy to make us a priority in their life. We get the left-overs, the dregs, the moments prior to them turning over and instantly snoring through the night.

 

After a while, we wonder what part we play in this marriage. Are we simply a mule and a paycheck, or free slave labor as chief cook and bottle-washer? We are definitely not a priority on our mate’s to-do list.

 

They take us for granted and show no appreciation for the huge benefits we provide for them. The kids, our vocation, housework, hobbies, civic and church activities all seem to be clamoring for more and more of our time.

 

When we are home, we vegetate in front of the TV and watch sports or Hallmark movies to combat the stress of the day, or we lock our self in our sewing room or garage and create items that we do not really need. The fun goes right out of our relationship, and we grow more distant by the minute.

 

We spend very little time sharing from our heart. Busyness is public enemy number one in relationships, in our health, in our peace, and in our relationship with Creator God. We often use busyness to fulfill a need to feel accepted, loved, significant, relevant, successful, etc.

 

We cannot change our spouse, or make them change their priorities. However, we can pray about this, and ask God to change them. As we pray, we can also change our self. We learn to be grateful for what we do have from God and our spouse.

 

When we stop complaining and live in gratitude for what God gives us, God opens our heart to see His benefits in our life. We find fulfillment in our relationship with Him. This takes the stress out of our attitude, words, actions and thoughts.

 

We are more grateful for God’s benefits in our life, and we focus less on what we do not have. We also learn to focus on the positive that our mate does, rather than on what he/she does not do. This makes us more attractive to our mate and he/she wants to spend more time with us.

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to focus on the positive qualities of our family – those aspects that we take for granted (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Teach us that this attitude helps us to be kinder to them, more sympathetic to their priorities and more compassionate. We always want to thank You for Your marvelous works and for who You are in our life.

 

Remind us to take note of our spouse’s positive character qualities, their tireless work ethic, and their commitment to what they deem important. Show us how our contentment draws our spouse and children to us, so that they want to spend time with us. Our patience with them is contagious, and they make us more of a priority in their life. Our sense of wellbeing with Christ in us, makes us appreciate all that You have already given to us.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we appreciate what we have, we are more capable of accepting what we do not have; we allow patience to have her perfect work in us, as we wait on God to meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches.

 

 

Constant Comfort

Paved Pathway Between Trees and Plants Under Blue Sky

 

Even in the midst of the storm, Jesus was able to lay down in the boat and sleep. He bids us to come to Him when we are weary and heavily laden, so that He can give us this same level of peace and rest (Matthew 11:28).

 

Mankind relentlessly attempts to create a utopia in which to dwell. We surround our self with fashion, comforts and toys meant to bring joy to our soul. However, we soon tire of them. Life is full of trouble and toil no matter what we do.

 

Although joyous events do occur, evil eventually comes knocking at our door again. Devastating circumstances soon follow one right after the other. Some of our choices, or the choices that others impose upon us, bring us grief and despair.

 

The daily news entails multiple accounts of damaging deeds playing out in our life, as well as around the world. Random and senseless shootings, terrorist bombings, human trafficking, abortions, and abuse of all kinds creep into our sphere in this world.

 

In an effort to keep our self safe, we buy alarm systems for our homes, stockpile guns, purchase dried food that lasts for years, install panic rooms in our house, exchange currency for gold and silver, move to deep mountain homes, etc.

 

However, God’s grace and peace in the midst of our trials are ours as a gift from Him and His precious Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the God of all solace, and the Father of compassion who calms our storms (2 Corinthians 1:2-4).

 

Our comforts abound because of the penalty Jesus paid for our sins. His provision for us is an example to others of His loving kindness and mercy toward those who trust in Him alone (2 Corinthians 1:5-7).

 

Prayer:

Father God, our heart breaks with news of tragedy in every corner of the earth, even right here in our own town. We pray for Your soon return, so that You can right the wrongs, which cause all of this suffering. Help us to capture, from the seeds of suffering, all the resources we need to grow spiritually and to inspire others to trust in You alone.

 

In the midst of our difficulties, You make a way for us to enjoy peace that exceeds all human reasoning. You teach us, that in spite of the whirlwind of chaos around us, we know that Christ is with us and in us, giving us the strength to withstand the cruelty of life and allowing us to enjoy His tranquility and comfort in the peaceful eye of the storm.

Thought for the Day:

Tears often fill our eyes and flow down our cheeks, usually unbidden, yet impossible to quell because we live in a world, which ignores God’s love; Jesus sagely reminds us that we will have tribulation in our lifetime, however, He comforts us with the truths that He already overcame the world and He abides within us.

– John 16:33

 

God is Our Help and Strength

Silhouette Of Mountains

 

Many people believe that God tempts us; however, God cannot be tempted by evil, and He does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). We are tempted and enticed by our own evil desires to dwell in darkness, rather than in His Light (James 1:14-15; John 3:19).

 

God faithfully gives us a way to escape all allurement toward full-blown sin, so that we can stand against the flesh, the world and the devil (1 Corinthians 10:13). He provides for us everything that we need in order to firmly stand our ground (Ephesians 6:13).

 

Then when we persevere and pass the test, we receive a crown of life from the Lord who loves us, abides within us, walks with us, and is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6; James 1:12).

 

People also think that 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not test us more than we are able to bear. Then they get angry with God when they experience trials that are too difficult for them, or when a loved one dies.

 

The opposite is actually true. Jesus promises that in this world we will have tribulation. It is often more than we can bear, but never more than He can bear. We can trust Him, because He abides within us and walks through trials with us.

 

We can also face tribulation cheerfully, because He already overcame anything we could ever experience (John 16:33). God is our strong tower and our mighty fortress during our trials (Psalm 18:2). We can do all things through Him, because He gives us His strength (Philippians 4:13).

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to learn to rely only on You at all times. Even though the trials and temptations in this world are stacked up against us, we learn to see things by faith rather than by sight (Hebrews 11:1). Then our faith grows, as we see You work out all things for our eventual good, and You help us to overcome life’s hardships (Romans 8:28).

 

When we put our trust in You, rather than relying on our own human resources, You help us to see the seed for a miracle that You plant in every trial. Help us to remember that when our life is empty, You fill it; when difficulties overcome us, You deliver us; and when we fall, You still love us and that is all that really matters.

 

Thought for the Day:

God is the benevolent Father portrayed in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son; and even when we take Him for granted, or spurn His love for us, He never abandons or neglects us.

– Luke 15:11-32; Hebrews 13:5

 

 

De-stressing in the Moment

Photography of Body of Water and Mountains

 

Stress is a major factor in many illnesses we experience. This negative emotion erodes the cells in our body, and also wreaks havoc in our soul – throughout our thoughts, choices and emotions.

 

While stressed, we rarely take stock of the moment or consult the Lord for His plans (Proverbs 3:5-6). We focus more on the future and past than the current moment; and we forget to consider the many blessings, with which God drenches our daily life.

 

We are shamed by our past and overcome with fear of the future, speculating on how our current situation will progress. We worry about how to prepare for tomorrow, how to keep everyone happy with us, and even how political, societal and environmental changes will affect our life.

 

The only healthy solution to this totally human response to life is to disengage. When we disengage, we follow the advice of the Serenity Prayer, and separate the issues bogging down our mind into two categories:

1.) Those things that we can influence, and we pray for God’s direction for us in them.

2.) Those issues we will leave in God’s capable hands and trust in His goodness and wisdom.

 

We also totally rely on the anointing of God’s Spirit to keep us on the path that He preordained for us to follow before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:10). We consult the Lord’s desire in the current moment, and pay attention to the present details of our circumstances.

 

We reconnect with important people in our life – forgiving and asking forgiveness when necessary. We make time to have fun with our family and friends, rather than constantly adhering to a strict work schedule at home and in our vocation.

 

We spend time in God’s creation, breathing in the fresh air and drawing inspiration and energy from His natural beauty and order all around us. We absorb the sights, sounds and smells that we notice – completely engaging in each moment of time.

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to pay attention to the inner dialogue of our own soul, and to begin meeting some of our needs that we usually neglect. Remind us that caring about and for our self, in the same way that we care for everyone and everything else in our life that demands our constant attention, is of vital importance to the health of our body, soul and spirit.

 

Remind us to fully experience each moment of time that You allow us to live in Your service, and to praise You in every one of them – giving You the glory that is due to Your name. We want to enjoy the experiences that You plan for our day, and to embrace our intimacy with You through every trial that we encounter – hearing Your will and embracing Your love through them all.

 

Thought for the Day:

Fully living in the moment, and following God’s will during each one of them, will reduce the stress in our life and give us a healthier future in body, soul and spirit; we set aside our desire to achieve that next step in societal success, and our need to be productive every moment of our day, in order to walk in obedience to God’s Spirit and to completely engage and participate in His plans for each moment of our life.

 

Giving God the Glory

Scenic View of Beach

 

In our spiritual growth, we often strive to perfect an area that only the Holy Spirit is capable of achieving in our lives (Galatians 3:1-3). We do not realize just how entirely God is able to deliver us from our fears, doubts, insecurities and carnal appetites.

 

We continually struggle to overcome the sins that so easily trip us up. Yet, in spite of our efforts, we still fall into sin (Romans 7). We try to control these acts of the flesh in vain by quoting scripture, praying vigilantly and watching constantly over our feelings and attitudes.

 

If we were able to succeed, then God would get no glory for our perfection in those areas. If we accomplish any change through our own effort – and chances are, it may not last very long – we tend to want the praise and recognition for our self.

 

After about 10 years of trying to please God with my good behavior, I realized that my attempts to gain favor with God resulted from my desire to earn God’s love. I feared that God could not love me with all of my imperfections.

 

We could never be good enough to earn God’s love or favor. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, God remembers our sins no more (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 8:12). If we could perfect our self, we would not need Jesus.

 

If we could save ourselves, Jesus’ sacrifice for us was not unnecessary. Now, when God points out a particular fault to me, I give it back to Him. I ask Him to do His complete work in my life, and He always does (Philippians 1:6).

 

Prayer:

Father God, I wanted to achieve perfection to make You love me. I forgot that when You look at me, You see Jesus; and therefore, You are already well pleased with me. Even our best behavior falls short of Your mark of perfection. We want to glorify You with our thoughts, words and actions.

 

Remind us that we deserve no less than the fires of hell for even our best behavior (Isaiah 64:6). In Your mercy, however, and even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Thank You that Jesus gave His life to pay the penalty of our sin.
Thought for the Day:

When God convicts me of a shortcoming, I look up Bible verses about the opposite of that behavior, and I write them down on 3×5 cards and carry them around with me to reread at every available moment; eventually, I start to see Godly behavior and the fruit of God’s Spirit manifesting in me instead of my human nature, which used to take control.

– Galatians 5:22-23

 

 

Joy Comes in the Morning

Lake and Mountain

 

Life is full of trouble and trials. Jesus guarantees that it will be like this for all of us, just like it was for Him (Isaiah 53:3-12; John 16:33). His disciples realized the same thing, and they encourage us to find the joy in each negative circumstance (James 1:2-3).

 

We learn in God’s Word how to survive, with peace and joy in our heart, all of the harsh issues of life (Philippians 4:9). So many Saints before us lived a righteous life and consulted God each moment of the day (Hebrews 12:1; Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Their testimonies teach us to throw aside every hindrance to God’s will that we encounter, and to persistently run the race that God set for us before we were ever born. We focus our efforts on Jesus’ example and praise Him as He sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2; Ephesians 2:10).

 

We gain our strength to endure negative issues by focusing on Jesus, so that we do not lose heart and grow weary (Hebrews 12:2-3). Even when God sees a need to rebuke us, we draw encouragement from the fact that He loves us enough to discipline us (Hebrews 12:4-7).

 

If God does not discipline us, we are not His children, but children of Satan and of this world (Hebrews 12:7-9). Therefore, we embrace His correction with gratitude in our heart and humility in our soul (Hebrews 12:10-11).

 

Paul encourages us from his experience of persecution and steadfast ministry for the Lord, even while imprisoned for his stance as a follower of Jesus (Philippians). He reminds us that Jesus began and will complete His perfecting work in us (Philippians 1:6).

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that for us to live on this earth is our privilege in Christ, but to die is our reward for serving You with our life (Philippians 1:21). Thank You for working in us, and giving us the power of Jesus’ resurrection to live for Your purpose (Philippians 2:13, 3:10).

 

Forgetting about the past, we press forward to attain the prize that You prepared for those who love you (Philippians 3:13-14). Help us to relinquish into Your safe keeping all worries and stress about anything, and to live in Your peace, because we know that You work out everything for our eventual good (Philippians 4:6, 9; Romans 8:28).

 

Thought for the Day:

Since Jesus abides in us by His Spirit, we can accomplish God’s purpose for our life, because Christ gives us His strength and contentment through it all (Philippians 4:13); loving God with our whole body, soul and spirit produces a joy-filled life.

 

We Have Not, because We Ask Not

Dock Under Cloudy Sky in Front of Mountain

 

God is a faithful Father, and His love and goodness increase our faith as we daily receive all of His benefits (Psalm 103:2). He grows our faith by walking with us and in us through life’s trials. He gives us opportunities to mature spiritually.

 

Daily, we watch His abundant goodness work miracles in our life. Asking God for help is a vital part of healing. When we do not ask, we often suffer needlessly. For instance, I was in a car accident where a huge van t-boned my little compact car.

 

Seat-belted in place, I received 11 broken ribs, a broken little finger, a concussion, half a face full of glass shards, and a punctured lung. Yet, due to intense prayer from all of my prayer warriors, God granted that I never felt pain, and I never had to take one pain pill.

 

I was back to work as a financial secretary in one week. My amazed doctor said that people who only break a few ribs are sometimes hospitalized for days, due to the pain.

 

Another time, I dislocated my shoulder. In intense pain, I followed Daddy God’s direction to ice the shoulder to reduce the swelling, so my husband could gently maneuver the joint back in place. As we prayed, God reduced the pain incrementally until the procedure resulted in success.

 

Recently, I lost my balance and fell flat on my face. I broke my glasses and had multiple scrapes and abrasions on my thumb, nose and knee. I suffer for days with nagging pain in the area of the thumb and knee wounds.

 

One day, during my prayer time, I said, “Daddy God, it is strange to me that you took away the pain of broken ribs and dislocated shoulder, but something as minor as a scraped knee could cause me so much pain for such a long time.”

 

He immediately responded, “Well, you did not ask me to remove the pain in your current wound like you did in your previous ones.”

 

Oh my! I immediately asked for removal of the nagging pain, and a few hours later, I realized that the pain was gone, never to return. Our good, good Father graciously answered prayer again. He delights in caring for and blessing His children.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for reminding us in Your Word that, although You know our needs better than we do, and although You often meet our need while we are still praying, You love it when we humble our self and make our requests known to You (James 4:10-11; Philippians 4:6-8). You are our good, good Father, and You never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

 

You delight in meeting our needs and caring for us through every trial that we will ever experience (1 Peter 5:7). You supply everything that we need through Your glorious riches (Philippians 4:19). We give You all of the praise and glory for all of the benefits we receive as Your child.

 

Thought for the Day:

We often grow weary in our trials, and feel hurt that God does not miraculously intervene for us in them; yet, we often do not have our needs met, because we forget to ask; we expect to suffer, and so we do; the lesson here is to remember to ask, so that God will abundantly supply everything that we need in His own timing and way.

 

Serving the Living God

Snow-covered Mountain

 

We serve the living God who always endures (Daniel 6:26). He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is nothing that is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17, 27). In Christ all things are possible for us – His servants who serve Him (Matthew 19:26).

 

I am so thankful for a husband who consults the Lord in all things, and who does not rely on his human resources and natural wisdom. He makes every effort to follow God’s Spirit, even when that goes against his natural inclinations or desires.

 

Daniel was a man of conviction as well (Daniel 6:22-26). This often caused him to suffer jail time, or separation from his family and friends; but he never backed down. He knew that God planted a seed for a miracle in every trial he faced.

 

Daniel’s work ethic and respectful submission to authority, even when falsely accused and jailed, earned him favor in the eyes of the authority figures of the kingdom in which he lived. God used him as a witness to an entire nation.

 

God also has individual plans for each of us. Plans to bless us and to care for us and to provide for all of our needs – large and small (Jeremiah 29:11). He makes it clear in His Word that obedience to His directives is more important to Him than all of our sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22).

 

God cautions us not to allow the good decisions in life to overwhelm us, and to keep us from serving Him in the best choices. Busyness is not a sign of holiness, only walking in the Spirit will help us to achieve that status (Galatians 5:15-25).

 

Prayer:

Father God, even though our circumstances may be less than desirable, remind us that people are watching our reactions. Help us to draw strength from the example of people like Daniel, as well as from Your Holy Spirit within us. We want to serve You with our whole heart. Use us as salt and light in this dying world all around us (Matthew 5:13-14).

 

Help us to remain on the straight and narrow path even when those around us take the wide and easy road (Matthew 7:13-14). Teach us how to live up to Your Biblical standards on a daily basis, and to bless You with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Thank You for continually providing for all of our needs from Your abundant and glorious riches (Philippians 4:19).

 

Thought for the Day:

God blesses us far above anything we could ever ask for or imagine; therefore, regardless of our current situation, we will determine to live for God with infinite integrity, committed conviction, and dedicated devotion.

– Ephesians 3:20

Secure Rest in God

Brown Wooden Dock

 

Coverings are very useful. A hat keeps the sun from scorching our head. An umbrella protects us from the drenching rain. A scarf prevents wind from blowing in our ears and down our neck. A snow suit keeps us warm.

 

Our security in God comes from the covering He provides for us through His Spirit and His ways (1 Corinthians 11:10-16). For Believers, the Lord is our covering, and He puts safeguards in place for us.

 

A covering is very handy in this world of trials and sorrows. Walking under God’s covering keeps us sheltered from life. He shields us all day long, we snuggle on His lap and live in peace, regardless of our circumstances (Deuteronomy 33:12).

 

When we are sorrowful and distressed, the angel of God’s presence saves us. In His love and mercy, He redeems us, lifts us up, and carries us in His arms each and every day (Isaiah 63:91). We rest securely in Him.

 

In our rebellious living, we lose so much by removing our self from under God’s perfect covering. God is the covering for the man, and He made man the covering for the woman. God planned that a husband would shield his wife from adversity.

 

It is easy for a wife to submit to a man who deeply cares for her.  A husband’s prayers conceal her spirit and soul from Satan’s fiery darts. He protects her from the stress and pressures of life. Providing care for her physical needs, he ensures that she has a refuge for her body.

 

As we follow God’s Biblical precepts, we are protected and assured. He seeks us out when we stray from the straight and narrow road (Matthew 7:14), and He carries us on His shoulders safely back to the fold (Luke 15:4-5).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You cover us with Your feathers in order to protect us from harm, conceal us from Satan’s detection, and shield us from the circumstances of life (Psalm 91). You carry us close to Your heart and gently lead us (Isaiah 40:11). Like the eagle that stirs up her nest, and then flutters over her young to protect them as they learn to fly, You spread Your wings wide and carry us to safety on Your pinions (Deuteronomy 32:11).

 

Even in our old age, You sustain us. You made us and You transport us all through life’s trials and temptations. You rescue us and sustains us each and every time we call out to You (Isaiah 46:4). You even command that Your angels guard us, and keep us in all of our ways; they lift us up in their hands, so that we do not even bash our foot on a stone (Psalm 91:11-12).

 

Thought for the Day:

When we are weak, God carries us like a father carries his child, He fights our battles for us, and He sustains us with His goodness (Deuteronomy 1:31); He holds us by our right hand as He comforts us with the knowledge that He is our constant help, and we never have to be afraid (Isaiah 41:13).

 

Be Angry, but do not Sin

Photo of People Sitting on White Sand

 

How is it possible to be angry without sinning? God’s Word makes it very clear that if we look on someone with lust, we commit sexual immorality; and if we hate, we have already committed murder. God does not differentiate between venial – minor; and mortal – deadly sins.

 

Sin is all the same to Him. It is missing the mark of His true perfection, like missing the bullseye in marksmanship. He does give us clues in His Word, however, on how to escape the clutches of temptation that flirt with our feelings and tickle the imagination of our mind (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

As an Italian, I grew up in a home well-acquainted with anger. Rage was a common denominator in our household. As an adult, I could not understand why I got so angry about stupid things, until God made it very clear that I subconsciously allowed my negative emotions to build up into a volcano.

 

Also, though I was slow to anger and to speak, I was not quick to listen. I did not produce the righteousness that God desires from us (James 1:19). I stuffed my feelings all day long, not forgiving and moving on, but burying them in my subconscious mind in an attempt not to nag or harass others.

 

Then, at the “last straw”, I blew up; and my feelings erupted all over the unsuspecting victim of my wrath. The emotion of past incidents from my subconscious mind added to the expression of my current anger.

 

I did not curse, or belittle or attack; I simply screamed out my feelings at the top of my lungs. People could no longer ignore me, because the meek and mild servant transformed into a raging animal.

 

My former husband says he could no longer deal with my outbursts, and that is why he insisted that we get a divorce. My current husband felt the same way; however, he brainstormed with me to uncover the reasons behind my outbursts.

 

We discovered two key principles that helped to solve this problem. The first was for me to fully gain the attention of the hearer and to help them to seriously consider my feelings and needs before they made decisions that affected me, even if they did not agree with me or see any significance in the importance of my concerns.

 

The second was for me to gain all the facts about issues that bothered me, rather than jumping to conclusions and getting hurt or angry needlessly. It took much prayer and journaling and asking questions, but eventually my tirades diminished.

 

Now, I either understand the real reason behind the other person’s words or behavior, and I feel compassion; or I get their attention and insist that they take me seriously before making any decisions that affect me. Then, there was no reason for me to explode.

 

Anger is a God-given emotion to protect us, not to use to attack other people. God wants our anger to come from righteousness, not selfishness, and He helps us to cope with our feelings as we learn the difference.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us, when we are displeased with a situation, to gain all the facts of the issue rather than to jump to conclusions, and to listen carefully and not to make assumptions. Help us to take deep breaths and to relax our negative emotions before we discuss any conflicts. We want to turn to You to help us to keep our relationships healthy and whole.

 

Our tongue is difficult to tame (James 3:8); so remind us that without You, we can do nothing worthwhile (John 15:5), and that we are a ship without a sail and rudder, totally lost at sea. Help us to learn to allow patience to have her perfect work in our soul, so that we will be complete, lacking nothing that we need (James 1:4). You give us eternal blessings and make us glad with the joy of Your presence within us (Psalm 21:6).

 

Thought for the Day:

Dealing with negative emotions is easier when we permit the feelings to simmer for a while, and to give our self time to journal our thoughts and emotions first, in order to discover what is actually bothering us; this also allows us to give other people the benefit of the doubt, and to take our negative feelings to God in prayer for His clarity and wisdom.