A Good Marriage – Common Ground

Winning is not the ultimate prize of life; it is the manner in which we finish the race that counts the most. It is often the last straggler across the finish line that receives the most attention, because they persevered to the very end.

 

Winning an argument is not necessary to feel validated either. We can concede that we are wrong, if indeed we are, without any shame or recrimination.

 

We have a viewpoint that differs from our employer’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, child’s, parent’s or spouse’s perspective; but no less right or wrong than theirs.

 

There is nothing heroic about destroying a marriage, because we soon realize that we were acting as pawns on Satan’s game board, playing right into his hands and wreaking havoc for generations to come.

 

If both parties in a disagreement are willing to bear with one another and to lay our life down for each other, there is always a way to peacefully resolve all issues and to avoid fighting and drama.

 

Neither of us is the enemy, we are simply fellow sojourners in this life with equal rights and privileges in the family of God. Quickly apologizing from the heart for any hurt we cause during a disagreement goes a long way in keeping unity in our relations.

 

Repairing our relationships is so much more mature than rending them in half and going our separate ways – leaving a trail of broken hearts and lives behind us. A trained counselor can help us to negotiate our differences.

 

Seeking wisdom from God’s Word and His Spirit during times of prayer can also help us to breach any gaps in our unity. We negotiate until we find common ground on which to stand.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You remind us not to separate what You bind together. You admonish us not to break any vow that we make, but to honor our commitment to one another with charity, patience and kindness. You want us to work together to find an equitable solution to any conflicts in our marriage, as well as in our affiliations at work and in Your Body.

 

Give us Your wisdom to maintain peace and to show Your agape love to those who wound us; to turn the other cheeks and to bear with one another’s idiosyncrasies and foibles. Give us patience to love one another as Christ loves the church; so we can represent living sacrifices as a testimony to an unbelieving world.

 

Thought for the Day:

There is nothing heroic in winning at the cost of someone else’s expense; but in laying down our life and serving one another with the love of our Father toward us.

 

Freedom from this Sin-Cursed World

Satan wants us to think that we are helpless victims. He is the god of anyone who has not converted out of his kingdom as a Believer in Jesus Christ. However, he has no authority over the life of an authentic Believer.

 

The devil is given authority by God (Job) to cause trials in our life; but God already planted a seed for a miracle in every trial. We simply wait for it by faith, knowing that God is always faithful.

 

This allows us to avoid health debilitating stress and to sidestep depression, anxiety and anger. We sail through the trials when we keep our mind focused on God’s love and benevolence through every moment of our experience.

 

When our flesh produces humanistic reasoning and doubts, it is trying to live independently from God. Our humanity feels as if it needs to stay in control of every situation; yet, Jesus is the only Savior of the world.

 

Our puny attempts to take His place, in our life or in anyone else’s life, is futile. It makes no real sense to endeavor to use our influence, talents, analytical abilities and mortal efforts to keep us and our loved ones safe.

 

In our first years of sanctification, life is still a struggle. Walking by faith and living in the control of the Holy Spirit every moment of the day is a habit we learn over time.

 

This attitude gets easier as we dwell with the knowledge that we continually live in the presence of Christ. All the power of the Godhead abides within us.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we want life to get easier when we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; yet we deserve nothing but hell as the punishment for our sins. We forget that we warrant no other favors, because You already saved us from the torments of hell. Thank You for showering us with daily blessings anyway. Thank You for giving us the faith of Jesus Christ and for making us a new creation (Galatians 2:20).

 

You also saved us from the emptiness, loneliness and deprivation of life in this world. You give us peace even in turmoil, rest in the place of unrest; and joy in the midst of devastation. We can never thank You enough for intervening in our life and awakening our soul to the fact that our spirit was dead in sin and we needed Jesus as our Savior.

 

Thought for the Day:

We are no longer compelled to live a life enslaved by sin, our flesh, the world and Satan, because Jesus shed His blood to give us His Spirit of life.

 

 

 

Adopted by Our Holy God

In our humanistic society, it is impossible not to keep our focus on our self. We think about #1, sometimes to the exclusion of those whom we should cherish more than our own self.

 

We forget that Christ laid down His life for us and calls us to lay down our life for others. It is easier for most women to lay down our life, because our genes tend to be hardwired with the codependent nature.

 

However, there are also men in our society that have this emotional, compassionate nature that makes it easier for them to put others above their self.

 

The issue here is more about Christ increasing within our spirit and soul as our focus on our self decreases (John 3:30). We consider others as better than our self (Philippians 2:3-4).

 

This does not mean that we neglect our self – we are people too and we can minister to our needs in the same way that we care for everyone else. In fact, this habit keeps us healthy and more able to help others (Mark 12:31).

 

Yet, as we decrease, we are new creatures in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23-24). We are offspring of our holy God and His divine nature infuses every part of our body, spirit and soul – thoughts, choices and feelings (Acts 17:28-29).

 

In eternity, Christ will even transform our body to mirror His glorious, immortal one (Philippians 3:21).  God’s Spirit completely sanctifies us, conforming us to the image and likeness of Christ, God’s first born Son (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You adopted us as individual members of Your Body and Jesus is our head (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:15). Our body is Your temple and as the corporate Body of Christ, we are one with Your Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:17). The world recognizes that You sent us on their behalf, because our life is a testimony of You to them (John 17:21-23).

 

Jesus gives us the glory, which You gave to Him, so that we can be one with Him, You and with one another (John 17:22). Help us to be patient and diligent as You slowly mature our spiritual growth until we share in the divine nature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

 

Thought for the Day:

We are crucified with Christ, and therefore, we live in this world for the glory of Christ; yet, it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us and through us. – Philippians 1:21; Galatians 2:20

 

 

 

Choosing to be Vulnerable

Too often I meet people who are destroyed by the unfaithfulness of people in their life. They are abused by a parent, disappointed by decisions made for them by those in authority over them, abandoned by a spouse, traumatized by infidelity, or overwhelmed by grief from some loss in their life.

 

Through life’s trials, I have learned that all people are inherently untrustworthy. You and I fall into that category as well. We never know how we will act or react to a moment of temptation and weakness. Yet, God calls us to love unconditionally.

 

If we withhold trust and love from others because we are wounded or fear the potential of being hurt, we cheat our self. We erect walls around our emotions and function in life from our mind only.

 

We refuse to feel anything because life is too painful for us. We do not emotionally invest in anyone, not even our spouse, children or church family. We simply show love by doing acts of service for them.

 

This attitude makes us feel like we are a success and doing our duty to others. Yet, this is a substitute at best – failing to fulfill us at the deepest levels of our soul.

 

This anxious arrogance actually makes us more vulnerable and increases our load of unwanted emotional baggage. We collect the incidents of abuse in our soul and hold grudges, forgiving with our mind but never from our heart.

 

God is the only entity in life that we can truly trust. He always has our best interest at heart. Even if He disciplines us or allows life to bruise us, He never allows life to totally break us (Isaiah 42:3).

 

This makes life worth the risk of allowing our self to be vulnerable to hurt, in order to experience the joy of unfettered love and acceptance. We can even more freely love our self if we allow our self to love others (Mark 12:30-31).
Prayer:

Father God, our soul can only find our true and complete rest in You alone. You are our only salvation and constant comfort and strength. You alone are our rock and fortress. No matter what life throws at us, we will never be shaken as long as we keep our focus on You (Psalm 62:1).

 

Remind us that it is easier to forgive others when we realize that they are as vulnerable and human as we are. We can actually expect to be wounded by other people, but it hurts less when we have our faith in You rather than in our fellow sojourners in this life. You give us Your agape love to share with the world and it is healing and complete.

 

Thought for the Day:

God is our only help and shield from the inherent pain life brings (Psalm 33:20), because He alone is our strength in times of trouble (Psalm 37:39), and our courage in this insecure world (Psalm 130:5); we wait in silence before Him and find our hope only from Him (Psalm 62:5).

 

​Give Yourself to God

Give yourself first and completely to God. Do not give Him a few moments of devotion, but dedicate all of your day and night to Him.

 

Seek His direction at home, work, school and play. You will live in His peace and anointing, and will reap the joy and serenity He provides as you give yourself entirely to Him.

 

He will not grant all of your desires, He will not spare you from all of your trials and heartache, but He will always give you more and better than you could ever imagine.

 

As we simplify our life, we no longer buy what we do not need. We do not pay a monthly fee for a storage room that collects stuff we will never see again.

 

The more possessions we own, the more they own us. If we do not have room for it at home, we do not need it. The more we walk in the Spirit, the less time we have to walk in the flesh (Romans 5:16).

 

Without encumbering ties to this earth, we can consecrate our whole spirit, soul and body in service to King Jesus as we traverse through our day by the leading of God’s Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, the more control we attempt to maintain over life, the more problems we experience. Trouble seems to come in three’s and gets totally out of our control more often than not. Yet, the more of our self we give to You, the less we have to worry about and attempt to control in our life.

 

You sent Jesus to pay our sin debt and You gave us Your Spirit to lead us through every moment of our life. As we surrender control to You, and obey Your Spirit moment by moment without resisting; we reap the joy You have in store for us each and every day.

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus died to give us eternal life in abundance now and for eternity; so the least we can do is to live our life for Him.

 

A Good Marriage – Draw Together or Pull Apart

 

Marriage is designed by God, but is usually an uphill battle. When we put two or more people together, there is inevitably conflict of some sort. Let’s face it, we often cannot even get along with our self, much less with other people.

 

Life happens, challenges arise and situations change. These often attack our marriage as well. Not only do we have to adjust, but we have to bear the consequences of our spouse’s attempting to adjust as well.

 

If we face life’s challenges together as a unit, we can change and adapt together and at the same time. This makes for a much smoother transition. When we include God in the decisions and problem solving efforts, He works out everything for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 4:12).

 

God saw that man was alone and this was not good. So He created marriage to bless us and to lighten our load in life. He helps us to enjoy our marriage rather than to endure it. He provides faultless fruition for every need.

 

This requires that we spend time together as a couple, unified in the Spirit and with one another in prayer. God never promises us a window into our future, but He does promise to walk with us and in us through its challenges.

 

Taking advantage of our days off, vacation times, free week-ends, and an occasional afternoon or evening without prior commitments, we can make time to watch a movie together, listen to a political debate, follow our favorite team on the sport’s channel, read a book together, snuggle beneath the sheets, have dinner at a restaurant instead of at home, join friends for coffee and dessert, etc.

 

In Christ, we find joy in our marriage partner and solace in their care for us. We find fulfillment in helping them to fulfill their needs as God supplies us with everything we need. We enjoy life with the mate He gives to us (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).

 

Prayer:

Father God, life is never, ever easy; but You make all things possible as we have faith in Your faithfulness. You have arms long enough to save us and ears that always hear our cries (Isaiah 59:1; 1 John 5:15). Help us to commit every moment to You, rather than to follow our own path in life.

 

Everything You do remains forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). As we walk in obedience to Your Spirit, we reap the rewards of righteousness rather than the consequences of our sin and disobedience. Remind us to draw together as a couple and to lean on You for strength to face life’s challenges.

 

Thought for the Day:

Let us make a conscious effort to add more romance to our marriage; to put an end to pessimism, skepticism, criticism, etc; and to deal with negative emotions before they get deep seated in our soul – confessing our sins to God and to one another.

 

Marriage is designed by God, but is usually an uphill battle. When we put two or more people together, there is inevitably conflict of some sort. Let’s face it, we often cannot even get along with our self, much less with other people.

 

Life happens, challenges arise and situations change. These often attack our marriage as well. Not only do we have to adjust, but we have to bear the consequences of our spouse’s attempting to adjust as well.

 

If we face life’s challenges together as a unit, we can change and adapt together and at the same time. This makes for a much smoother transition. When we include God in the decisions and problem solving efforts, He works out everything for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 4:12).

 

God saw that man was alone and this was not good. So He created marriage to bless us and to lighten our load in life. He helps us to enjoy our marriage rather than to endure it. He provides faultless fruition for every need.

 

This requires that we spend time together as a couple, unified in the Spirit and with one another in prayer. God never promises us a window into our future, but He does promise to walk with us and in us through its challenges.

 

Taking advantage of our days off, vacation times, free week-ends, and an occasional afternoon or evening without prior commitments, we can make time to watch a movie together, listen to a political debate, follow our favorite team on the sport’s channel, read a book together, snuggle beneath the sheets, have dinner at a restaurant instead of at home, join friends for coffee and dessert, etc.

 

In Christ, we find joy in our marriage partner and solace in their care for us. We find fulfillment in helping them to fulfill their needs as God supplies us with everything we need. We enjoy life with the mate He gives to us (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).

 

Prayer:

Father God, life is never, ever easy; but You make all things possible as we have faith in Your faithfulness. You have arms long enough to save us and ears that always hear our cries (Isaiah 59:1; 1 John 5:15). Help us to commit every moment to You, rather than to follow our own path in life.

 

Everything You do remains forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). As we walk in obedience to Your Spirit, we reap the rewards of righteousness rather than the consequences of our sin and disobedience. Remind us to draw together as a couple and to lean on You for strength to face life’s challenges.

 

Thought for the Day:

Let us make a conscious effort to add more romance to our marriage; to put an end to pessimism, skepticism, criticism, etc; and to deal with negative emotions before they get deep seated in our soul – confessing our sins to God and to one another.

 

A Positive Lifestyle

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). With each sunrise, God’s mercies are fresh, new and rejuvenating (Lamentations 3:22-24). This is true whether we are in the midst of a hail storm of trials, or free of all worry and stress.

 

God sends us hugs throughout every single day: the alignment of numbers on the digital clock, a new flower in our garden, the sunrise and set, a formation in the clouds, a stranger’s smile, an unexpected check in the mail, our neighbor’s manicured lawn and flowerbeds, etc.

 

We can even create positive experiences for our self, our mate and our children to enjoy throughout the day – refreshing treats that minister to the body and soul.

 

Rather than listening to the negative self-talk in our mind, programmed there by Satan’s lies and people in our past, we can look in the mirror and tell our soul what we like about our self – our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual assets.

 

We can give joy away if we smile at a stranger, make a new friend, start a new ministry, and practice encouraging others. This brings joy to our soul as well as theirs. Here are other ideas.

 

Plan the menu for the week full of your favorite foods. Take a break from your perpetual diet and eat a pizza full of toppings you enjoy, and indulge in one soft drink that was your favorite as a child.

 

Adopting a pet gives us a focus outside of our self and saves the life of an abused or unwanted animal. Write cards or letters, emails and make phone calls to shut-ins, neglected family members and those in the hospital.

 

Starting a new hobby that we have always wanted to try or auditing an interesting class at the local college improves our soul. Listening to uplifting music in the comfort of our recliner or even dancing around the house as we dust will still our troubled soul.

 

We can take time to lay flat in silence on the couch or bed and take deep breaths – this releases much needed endorphins and oxygen into our bloodstream.

 

Watching a comedy on TV or in a movie will help us to laugh and lighten our mood. Spending time in nature, walking through the grass in bare feet or gardening will help us to connect with the beneficial chemical output of the earth.

 

Think of your own ways to enhance the joy in your life. We can even start a support group with “Secret Santa’s”, prayer partners to share our burdens, and Bible study groups in our neighborhood. The list is endless.

 

Prayer:

Father God, too often we allow Satan to drown us in the worries, stress and burdens in life. We forget that You are our burden bearer and our Provider. You sustain us through good times and bad. You encourage us with Your Word and by Your Spirit. You teach us to encourage one another.

 

Remind us that Your Spirit abides within us with constant words of love and affirmation, and Your Word is full of verses written by people who experienced similar circumstances to our own. Your Word is a light to our path and a lamp for our feet (Psalm 119:105). We love you with all of our body, spirit and soul – our feelings, choices and emotions.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our positive, Christ-centered focus initiates the joy, strength, inspiration and creativity in our life, which all come from God’s Holy Spirit within us.

 

 

 

Emotional and Mental Health: Be a Kid Again

 

When was the last time you acted like a kid, did something just for the fun of it, or did more on your day off than catch up on chores? We all have our favorite things from childhood.

 

That favorite toy, or the one you always wanted, but never received is a clue to what made you happy as a child. Consider purchasing that toy now; just google it and see what you can find. Put it on a shelf as a knickknack, or if possible play with it.

 

Blowing bubbles, casting a yo-yo, jumping on a trampoline, swinging at the park, playing board games, catching the wind with a pin wheel (windmill), making crafts with grandchildren or the children in your church Body, racing cars on a track, finger painting, flying a remote plane or drone, etc. are all very therapeutic.

 

Gazing at that favorite Tonka truck sitting on the bookshelf in your den will feed your soul. Dolls come in all sizes and shapes; buy one that catches your interest and get a few sets of clothes to redress her now and then as she sits pretty on your bedroom shelf.

 

Some men go mudding in their truck; ever wonder why? It is therapeutic to their soul. Women love to dress up and wear extensive make-up, high heeled shoes and sparkling jewelry, because it brings out the princess in them.

 

Give yourself time to play with friends – laugh, love, relax and unwind. Take time to ride the attractions at theme parks or to see the shows. Attend a concert or view a production by your local thespians.

 

Go skiing, surfing, fishing, hiking, biking, boating, fly a kite, etc. Play in the rain or run through the sprinkler; model at your local clothing store; take a music, cooking, baking or woodworking class, etc.

 

Volunteer at the local animal shelter or rescue; and give those frightened, lonely animals some attention. Serve food at a local soup kitchen or visit a homeless shelter or nursing home and show care to the people there.

 

Purchase an adult coloring book and felt markers to take time to color. Play a video game. Construct a cardboard puzzle, or buy a book of word puzzles and use it to wind down before bed. Giving the kid in us a chance to play improves our physical, mental and emotional health.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we are Your children, co-heirs with Christ of Your Kingdom, and You delight over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). You spoil us by providing all of our needs in abundance and keeping us safely tucked under the shadow of Your wings. As Christians, we tend to be stuffy, overly serious and we spurn good, clean fun.

 

Help us to connect with the child in us that You created, and who even now still dwells in us (Matthew 18:3). As we age, we often lower our defenses and allow the child-like part of our personality more freedom of expression; but please teach us to embrace the humility, creativity and innocence of that part of our self regardless of our age.

 

Thought for the Day:

Allowing our Inner Child out of whatever box, hole or closet we hid them in, so they would not embarrass us, is a very healthy step to take; we put away childish things and don the responsibility of an adult (1 Corinthians 13:11), but we should not attempt to murder or imprison that creative, fun-loving aspect of our personality (Psalm 131:2).

Creative Conflict in Marriage

 

A good marriage takes effort. When two – usually opposite – personalities combine under one roof, they often end up donning the boxing gloves and duking it out! Of course there is a simpler solution.

 

God gives us these diverse personalities and gifts, because together we can make wiser decisions. When we are at an impasse, we take the best from both of us and make a third, mutually agreeable choice which makes so much more sense.

 

By keeping our eyes on Jesus, we find God’s perspective and will, and we walk together in peace through His Spirit. We find comfort and wisdom from God’s Word and encourage one another (Psalm 119:71, 75-76).

 

We join our strengths and help one another to overcome our individual weaknesses. This takes humility, and pride will only gum up the works. Having to be right and the need to have one’s own needs met first are no basis for wise decisions – they are part of our insecurities.

 

Together we help each other overcome our idiosyncrasies and failings and guarantee that our unified decisions are in God’s will. Rather than accuse and fight when we disagree, we can brainstorm for that third alternative.

 

Trials and tribulation are easier to handle when faced together. Our frustration, discouragement and disappointments are shared by someone who loves us unconditionally. We comfort each other in our self-doubt.

 

God has a purpose in every trial, and He plants the seed for a miracle in each one of them (1 Peter 4:12). He works out all of them for our ultimate good. Both partners in the marriage are blessed as we keep each other strong and face life’s devastating events as lovers and friends.

 

Our intimacy with God and with one another strengthens through every trial, which we face together. We learn to depend on one another rather than to fight one another; and together we depend on God’s goodness more than on our own resources.

 

Prayer:

Father God, the difficulties and perplexities of life often wear us down and cause us to adopt defense mechanism, which cause negative issues in our marriage. Help us to heal from our personal, unresolved conflicts and to dwell with each other with understanding (1 Peter 3:7). Satan may influence our past, but we do not have to allow him to continue to hinder our present or future life. Help us to draw near to You and to resist Satan’s lies, so he will flee from us (James 4:7).

 

Thank You for linking us with a mate who will strengthen our weaknesses, help us to heal from our past hurts and challenge us to seek Your joy and comfort. Teach us not to attempt to change our mate, but to change our self and to rely on You to meet our needs. Help us to work together as a couple to live in unity with Your Spirit and with one another.

 

Thought for the Day:

Momentary trials lead to long-term blessings, which last a lifetime when we depend on one another and on God to see us through them.

 

Keepers at Home

Younger women in today’s modern church are too busy with their feet running to and fro in order to spend much time in their own homes (Proverbs 7:11). Careers along with raising children and events such as Girls Night Out is the phenomenon that causes much of this.

 

The Bible advises the “older” women to teach the “younger” how to excel as a keeper at home (Titus 2:4-5). It is definitely a lost art in this contemporary society.

 

“Apples of Gold” is a wondrous ministry promoting this concept ( http://www.applesofgold.org/home.shtml ) Several years ago, the ladies in our church went through this program with uplifting and lasting results.

 

The younger women were so grateful to the older ladies who mentored them – giving them skills and wisdom, which their moms were never able to share with them for one reason or another.

 

There is no Biblical precedent for Girls Nights Out, or Women’s Conferences that take up a whole week-end of a wife and mother’s time, as well as eating into the family budget to pay for the whole event.

 

Single women often have the time and financial resources to participate in this type of fellowship with other singles, but married women can avail themselves of the teaching and ministry of their local churches.

 

Books, Videos and CDs also give us a chance to learn women’s related issues on our own or in a local church class. We can even learn Biblical truth by teaching or assisting in a children’s class.

 

Fellowshipping as couples, and even families, promotes strong church ties and deep friendships with spiritual people in every age group. The best way to learn as a couple is in a class where the spouses both hear the same information.

 

This gives us something to discuss in our private times, opportunities to hold one another accountable for what we learn, and resources that we can research together to teach us to deepen our relationship to one another and to Christ within us both.

 

The Pastor’s Bible studies on Sunday and Wednesday evening are full of Biblical principles for every Believer’s life; yet, so few people avail themselves of this rich and valuable opportunity to grow in Christ and to mature spiritually.

 

Prayer:

Father God, Your plan and desire for women is to love our husband and children, and to make them our priority in our life. You state in Your Word that we can learn to live self-controlled and pure lives; so we will not discredit Your reputation by our words and behavior.

 

Teach us to manage our homes well and to live as co-heirs with our own husband. Help us to share with him our opinion, wisdom and leading from Your Spirit, but to ultimately submit to his decisions for our family. If he is rebellious against Your Word, we can pray for him to submit to your Word, strengthen our own ties with You, and attempt to find areas where we can agree as a couple.

 

Thought for the Day:

There is never a good reason for divorce, because with mutual submission we can always find a third alternative with which we can both thrive as individuals, as a couple and as a family; as keepers at home, we uncover God’s fulfilling role for our life.