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.