A Good Marriage – Loved and Cherished – Part 1

Marriage is a covenant between two different and unique people that should never be questioned or dissolved. It is a sacred vow before God to be united for life.

 

There is nothing in a marriage that cannot be resolved if both parties of the couple are humble enough to be flexible, to forgive slights – no matter how huge or earth shattering they are – and to lay down our life for one another.

 

If the circumstances are unbearable, a period of separation for the purpose of reconciliation is much better than getting a divorce. We cannot “move on with life”, but we can trust God to bring about a resolution in His perfect way and timing.

 

If our spouse is abusive, we can get a new phone number, and have a friend read his/her mail before we do, if we fear it is abusive. We can change jobs if necessary, and alert our friends to keep our business private. We do not need to live with abuse.

 

However, divorce is a blight on society and a lifelong wound on our life that never heals. It impacts the children of divorced parents and weakens their resolve to continue in their own marriage and to work out issues with compromise and preferring one another.

 

Cherishing one another is the greatest guarantee against divorce. To cherish means to look at one another with affection and loving consideration; we consistently show love beyond measure; adore one another; dote on each other and cherish one another from deep in our heart.

 

Rather than competing with one another, or expecting our mate to function outside of their calling and provision from God, we can discover our mate’s gifts and talents and depend on them for these traits.

 

We can hire a mechanic or handyman, if our mate is not gifted in that area, or engage a housekeeper or share the chores if our wife works too many hours to keep our home to the standard that we like it.

 

Communicating honestly and brainstorming together to find alternative methods, thinking and behavior is a healthy habit, which prevents bitterness from tearing apart our commitment to one another.

 

If both members of the couple are humble enough to make the effort to change our behavior, as well as to communicate more honestly with each other, then a Pastor, a successfully married older couple, or a counselor may help to improve our communication with one another.

 

We all bask in the Sonshine of a heart-felt compliment. Making each other feel loved and cherished is the best gift we could ever give to one another, to our family and to our children’s future mates.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we have a choice each day to build up or to tear down our relationship with one another. Help us to make it our goal to act loving, to quickly forgive slights, and to readily and patiently bear with one another’s fears and foibles. Remind us not to withhold love or approval, so that we do not compound one another’s self-doubt.

 

Give us Your wisdom to stop enabling one another’s insecurities. Help us to help each other to overcome the lies Satan planted in our heart during our childhood. Help us to help one another to feel unconditionally loved and cherished, not only by You, but by each other as well.

 

Thought for the Day:

We can prevent jealousy and insecurity in our relationship by speaking honestly about what we did with our day, who we were talking to on the phone and why we said or did something with another person in a particular manner that may have appeared as flirting or inappropriate for a married person.

 

But for the Grace of God

Helplessness is not a characteristic any modern person wants to admit. In our do it yourself mentality, we feel that others expect us to be like the unsinkable Molly Brown of Titanic fame; we never give up, we’ve got this, we just do it.

 

We shudder to think of anyone considering us “less than” or incompetent or that we may need help with something. Yet with God, humility and lowliness of mind is considered a blessing. He created Eve as a helpmate for Adam, and stated that it is not good for man to be alone.

 

He put all authentic Believers in a Body with Christ as our head, and adopted us a co-heirs with Jesus of His Kingdom. No one is an island; we are not good alone. When we are weak, then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).

 

Coming to the end of our rope is good place to be, because we can let go of our struggles, and let God be God. We end our war with our flesh, the world and the devil and we submit to God instead.

 

There is no pat answer, secret formula or magic carpet that will whisk us out of our trying circumstances. God’s Spirit delivers us from our fight with the flesh described in Romans 7 and sets us free into the fullness of Romans 8:1-2; no condemnation and the liberty of a child of God.

 

We run out of self-effort and fall broken and spent at the feet of Jesus. The only way to look is up…up into His compassionate face of love. His forgiveness fills our heart and His confidence floods our soul.

 

Prayer:

Father God, regardless of how hard we try, we cannot achieve any lasting results in our life without You. Empty victories and short-lived success just does not bring the satisfaction that we gain from a life hidden with Christ in You. We realize that only when we are truly broken can we do all things through You.

 

Remind us that only as we serve You and accomplish Your perfect will for our life can we ever hope for any lasting fruit in this world (Romans 7:21). Help us to see that we may build a tower and put our name on it, but it can fall the next day by one aggressive act of nature or terrorism.

 

Thought for the Day:

We are no longer slaves of unrighteousness, because Jesus Christ Himself set us free from the Law of sin and death (Romans 5:15-25, 8:1-2); we no longer dwell in this carnal world with the concepts and principles at play that attempt to control our life; when Jesus sets us free we are free indeed (John 8:36).

 

Tuning in to God’s Spirit

During our walk with the Lord, He proves to us His love and faithfulness. He shows us that we can place our cares into His capable hand, because He truly does care about each and every one of us, regardless of the burden of our sins and the willfulness of our past.

 

Each new day, our soul is more fully persuaded that His ways are perfect and that our human plans and goals are a mere waste of our time. We dedicate our body, soul and spirit to His will.

 

It is God who actually gives to us the desire and the ability to please Him with our life (Philippians 2:12-13). We escape so many trials when we stop making our own decisions that lead to destruction and deprivation in our life.

 

We learn to rely on God alone and to stand in complete surrender before Him. We stop wasting time on pointless activities and start walking by His Spirit through each moment of our day.

 

We realize with abandon that God is in complete control of the chaos in the world around us. As we walk on His straight and narrow path, we miss the switchbacks, the steep precipices and the rocky road of the broad way.

 

Time is no longer an enemy, but it flows smoothly around us as we walk in God’s ways. We develop Godly habits, thought processes and priorities, which clear our path of any pitfalls.

 

We surrender all to God, and He gives us all things in return. We live in His abundance. We even count tribulation, which may manifest in physical deprivation and struggles, as joyous occasions to see God blossom a miracle from the seed within every trial.

 

We learn, as Jesus did, that without God, nothing is possible; but with God, all things are possible (John 5:19, 14:10). We, like Christ, are the physical manifestation of God to this lost and dying world around us (1 John 4:17).

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to walk in the Spirit and to no longer allow the flesh, the world or the devil to hinder our walk with You. Help us to rise above the carnal, earthly plane in which our body lives in order to abide in You in our soul and spirit.

 

You make all the difference in our life and You turn us into difference makers in the lives of those You bring into our life. Help us to maintain a heavenly focus instead of keeping our eyes on this earthly plane of existence. Use us to perform Your works in the world around us all of the days of our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

Walking in God’s Spirit prevents us from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh that attempt to pull us back into this earthly realm of existence.

 

Falling in Love More Each Day

When we walk in the light of God’s truth, everyone can see our good works; but rather than extolling us for our efforts, they will give the Glory to God (John 3:21; Matthew 5:16).

 

People know there is something different about a Believer – at least they should know we are different from the world, unless we are still walking in the flesh (Galatians 5:15-26).

 

However, there is a great deal more to our walk with Christ than surviving trials and doing good works. Our intimacy with God increases daily, through deprivation and abundance.

 

We learn wisdom from His guidance and we fall in love with Him more and more each day. Throughout times of both oppression and victory, our walk remains at a steady gait, because of our personal relationship with the God of the universe.

 

Even when we think we are experiencing a dry spell, this is only a time of companionable silence with the Lord. He is waiting for us to break out in songs of praise and words of love and adoration for all He means to us and all that He does for us – even all the little things, which we often do not notice or tend to take for granted.

 

Moses warned the Israelites of this very thing. They continually took God for granted, especially during peace-filled times of blessing and tranquility. Humans always tend to trust in their own resources, especially during good times; and then we fall into the rut of selfishness and pride (Deuteronomy 8:10-18).

 

We see from the Israelite’s wandering in the desert that we often bring trials and hardships on our self. We reap the negative attitudes and behavior, which we allow Satan to perpetuate in our thoughts, words and actions.

 

However, our goal is to walk through each day trusting in the guidance of God’s Spirit. This way we side-step the pitfalls and rejoice continually in His blessings in both the lean and the bountiful times.

 

Prayer:

Father God remind us to continually trust in You, and to follow Your direction for each moment of our day (Proverbs 3:5-6). When you bless us, we tend to trust in our own ability, to take credit for the victories. We forget that we need You for every breath we take. You desire to be more than a “fireman” to douse the flames of the issues of life and to keep them from consuming us.

 

You offer us an intimate relationship with You every moment of the day. We feel Your love cascading over us like a waterfall, Your peace wrapping us in a safe cocoon in the midst of life swirling by all around us, and Your righteousness replacing the negative thoughts, choice and emotions which normally direct our life.

Thought for the Day:

Regardless of our earthly circumstances, God leads us in a level path because of the insecurity of life in this world. – Psalm 27:11

 

 

How to Love Others as We Love Our Self – Part 2 – Setting Godly Priorities

 

Once God freed me from bondage to codependency and Satan’s lies that others would only love me if I gave myself sacrificially for them, He started me on a liberating journey that taught me how to love others as Jesus loved me.

 

He taught me that I have value in and of myself regardless of what anyone else thought of me or did for me. Self-care became part of my routine instead of an afterthought that never materialized.

 

I learned that I am not responsible for the happiness of others, and to think that I am was an idol in my life. I had to lay my preconceived ideas at the altar of God’s truth and learn a whole new way of living.

 

It is only sinful to care for our self, if we are self-absorbed and self-centered. We are unbalanced, narcissistic and selfish if we think only of our self or of our self first and foremost all of the time.

 

A husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body; and yet, if he hates himself or does not value himself; then he will never learn to love his wife or anyone else either (Ephesians 5:28-29).

 

For most people, however, it is natural to care for their needs as well as the needs of others. Some give to get, but many nurturing, caring people give to bless others; and they end up receiving a blessing in the giving.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You taught us to enter Your rest, so that we are not driven by stress, perfectionism and enabling other people. We have Your abundant life, which starts at the moment of our Salvation (John 10:10). Thank You for teaching us to grow, develop and succeed in this life by living by Your principles.

 

Thank You for teaching me that the more I value myself as You value me, the more I teach other people to cherish me too. As I come to You to meet my emotional, mental, relational and spiritual needs, You help me to set my priorities in the correct order, You remove from my thinking the satanic drives of perfectionism and guilt, and You lead me by Your Spirit to help others only when it is Your will for me to do so.

 

Thought for the Day:

We cannot nurture our self or anyone else if we are burdened by guilt and deprivation, or stressed and overworked all the time; we can learn to nurture our self and others by watching how Jesus lived a balance of self-care and ministry to others.

 

 

A Fruitful Life

One work of the Holy Spirit in our life is to sanctify us by continually, although often slowly, replacing in us the negative attributes of our personality with His spiritual fruit.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 describes for us the fruit of the Spirit…”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

 

Sometimes, it is confusing to put the meaning of these words in simple terms. The definitions I like are:

Love – affection for others

Joy – exuberance about life

Peace – serenity

Patience – willingness to stick with it

Gentleness – compassion from the heart

Goodness – kindness that pervades our entire being

Meekness – humility and service

Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing

 

When I compare these to their opposites, the negative characteristics cause me to shudder. I certainly want no part of them in my character:

Envy, strife, hatred, bitterness, self-centeredness, pride, criticism, worry, depression, quitters and complainers, backbiters, and people who put work and fun ahead of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

 

The Good News is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us sanctifies us moment-by-moment! He replaces:

hatred with love,

depression with true joy,

discontentment with peace,

irritation with patience,

criticism with gentleness,

backbiting with goodness,

pride with meekness,

excess with self-control,

and worry with the faith of God as we are controlled and guided by His Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we thank You for putting Your fruit in us in place of the negative traits we learned from others, those that are ingrained in our personality with which we are born, and those that we develop through the disappointments of life.

 

We give our life to You to mold and make into the divine nature of Christ as He abides within us. We want to be lights of Your character to the world around us, and to have the mind of Christ rather than the whims of our flesh, the world or the devil. Thank You for Your sanctifying work in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

God replaces our negative character traits with the fruit of His Spirit as we willingly submit to His surgeon’s scalpel, the Word of God, which divides our flesh from our spirit.

– Hebrews 4:12

 

Bruised, but Not Broken

Violence can break a person, a relationship, personal belongings, etc. Something whole is handicapped now…maybe glued together, but never the same again.

 

Sometimes the fracture is undetectable, but it is there nonetheless – influencing every day of our life, leaving us damaged, cracked, fragmented and wounded.

 

Fear, confusion, insecurity and brokenness leave us vulnerable, crushed, strained and fractured. Ravaged by the choice made by someone else, our life is less than perfect. We often injure others because we are no longer whole.

 

Jesus paid the price to help us to mend from these injuries and flaws. He allowed the Roman soldiers to spill His blood, so we can be healed in body, soul and spirit (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

 

Jesus heals the brokenhearted by the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18).Troubles and trials may press in on us from every side, but Jesus breaks the yokes which bind us to them.

 

If we trust in and rely on Him alone, He does not allow life to crush us (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20). He encourages us when we are disheartened to keep us from being driven to despair (Psalms 34:18). He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

 

This persecution reveals the character of Christ in us, as we share in suffering in this life similar to His (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Our anguish here on earth cannot even compare to the unspeakable glory and joy that God will reveal in us and to us through the power of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You comfort all who mourn (Matthew 5:4). You require from us a spirit, which is humbly broken and contrite (Psalm 51:17). If we fall upon Christ by faith, we may be crushed; but never broken, because He will save us (Matthew 21:44).

 

Conversely, those who reject Your Son Jesus actually expose themselves to danger, ultimate ruin and eternal destruction (Luke 20:18; John 3:16-18; Romans 11:19; John 15:5). You will not allow the crushed stem to be completely broken or their feeble light to be put out entirely (Matthew 12:20).

 

Thought for the Day:

A bruised and broken life is full of mercy and compassion for others, and God uses us as a conduit of His love to those who suffered what we have suffered.

 

Give Me Jesus

We are foreigners in this world (Ephesians 2:19). We are no longer attached to any person, place or thing, because they are all temporary and subject to loss or change without a moment’s notice.

 

Our humanity is dead to sin, because we no longer care about things of this world; but Jesus lives His life in and through us. The life we now live in this mortal body, we live by the faith of Christ in us, because He loves us and gave His life as a ransom for our life (Galatians 2:20).

 

If Jesus is our whole life, then we are never abandoned and never alone (Colossians 3:3-4). He is there when we awaken in the morning, when we are sick or healthy, when we are alone or in a crowd, when our body wears out and when we enter eternity.

 

I never meet a stranger, only potential friends. I love pretty flowers and sunsets, special furniture and nick-knacks; but they are here today and gone tomorrow.

 

Even people are unfaithful, or move, or leave this world bound for their eternal place of existence. They leave us behind and we are void of their presence in our daily life; however, in actuality, Jesus is all we need both in this world and the next (Hebrews 13:5).

 

He is a refreshing waterfall of living water (John 4:14). His river of living water flows from us and changes the lives of those around us (John 7:38). He drenches us with His love, peace and joy, regardless of the circumstances of our life. We cling to Him as our lifeboat through the troubled waters.

 

He is our brother, and we are co-heirs with Him of our Father’s Kingdom (Romans 8:17). He lives in us and also walks with us. We are doubly cared for by our living Savior. We can relax, breathe and trust in Him.

 

Deep breathing helps us to regulate our emotions and enables us to increase our focus and lucidity when we make an effort to trust in the Lord alone, live in this one moment of time, and to breathe deeply throughout the day.

 

Prayer:

Father God, make us ever mindful that You are not here to serve us; but we are here to serve You. You make an eternal transformation in our life so we can live as an example of Your Gospel message, and make a difference in the lives of everyone that You lead us to encounter throughout our day. Teach us to trust in, rely on and believe in You alone each moment of our day.

 

You gave us Jesus as our center, our portion, our inheritance, our divine nature and character, etc. He is all we really need in both this life and the next. Thank You for covering us with Your feathers, because we gain our peace under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36:5-12).

 

Thought for the Day:

Taking deep breaths in through our nose will control our brain’s neurological signals, which leads to improved emotional feelings and the processing of our thoughts; slow, steady breathing activates the relaxing part of our nervous system, and slows our heart rate, reducing any feelings of worry and panic from stress.

 

 

The Body of Christ – Safety in Numbers

As the body of Christ, we stick together, no matter where we live or how many miles separate us. We can stay connected through social media, even though we rarely see one another face-to-face.

 

In nature, it is the animal that wanders from the safety of the herd that gets attacked by a predator. Satan uses this same tactic on Believers. He finds us wandering alone and pounces (1 Peter 5:8).

 

God created Eve, because He saw that Adam suffered when he was alone. He also created us as His Body, because there is safety, encouragement and blessings when we dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).

 

Without the Body of Christ we get lonely, roam from the straight and narrow path, and make poor choices. Alone, we are vulnerable, but a three-fold chord cannot be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The Body loves us and helps to protect us.

 

When we yoke with Jesus and other Believers, our load is lighter and we help each other with our burden of guilt, trials and storms in life. Our perspective is broadened by seeing things from another’s point of view.

 

Even Jesus chose 12 men to disciple and to keep Him company during His three years of focused ministry on His way to the cross. Daily, they walked together, healed the sick and reclaimed people from the devil’s kingdom of darkness.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to lay down our pride, to take the risks of being vulnerable which are inherent in relationships, and to encourage one another. Remind us that a best friend and prayer partner help us to diffuse our negative feelings and experiences, because they give us someone with which to share our burdens.

 

Friendships can be messy and cause problems in our life, but life is enhanced by transparent relationships, regardless of the ups and downs they may create. Thank You that You are our closest friend and that You always stick closer to us than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus knew the value of walking together with other Saints, although many turned against Him or deserted Him in the final hours of His life on this earth; He chose to live vulnerably in front of both the multitudes and His disciples.

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.