A Good Marriage – The Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine

Over the years of marriage, we recognize who our partner is and what they are not. We also develop a better understanding of our self and why we respond to people and events the way we do.

 

We come to identify what triggers negative reactions in one another, so we can avoid these issues whenever possible. We make concentrated efforts on working together to find mutually acceptable plans when our original personal preferences conflict.

 

We also fearlessly attack our personal issues and give the Holy Spirit full reign in our life, so that He can transform us with the mind of Christ. One way to recognize our faults is to pay attention to what our spouse complains about – do we procrastinate, withhold affection, watch too much TV, neglect to help one another with projects or daily chores?

 

Small adjustments in our schedule or habits will make a big difference in marital bliss and harmony. We can learn one another’s love language and show each other love in ways that will fulfill our mate’s needs and allow them to feel nurtured and cherished.

 

This will erase the small irritations which eventually erupt into major disharmony – the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). Do we expect too much from one another, forgetting that we are only human?

 

Do we greet one another as we would our best friend, or do we take one another for granted? We all appreciate being greeted with enthusiasm as someone who is highly cherished.

 

Do we agree to disagree or do we always feel like we are right and our partner is wrong? Do we need to have the last word, or do we stop talking when we have made our point?

 

No one like to live with condemnation, condescension, griping or constant belittlement. It is so good and pleasant when we dwell together in harmony (Psalm 133:1). This unity draws us closer to one another and makes us want to spend more time together.

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to recap once we calm down after a disagreement. Help us to honestly relate how we felt during the “fight” and what thoughts were going through our mind that we did not take the time to articulate. These thoughts fueled our emotional response during our discussion, and our spouse deserves to understand why we reacted as we did to their comment, behavior or reply.

 

Remind us to seek You in all of our decisions and discussions; not to rely on our own understanding, but to allow You to direction our thoughts, words and actions. Help us to be led by Your Spirit rather than to react in our flesh; but if we do act carnally, encourage us to ask for forgiveness from one another and to calmly discuss the situation until we find an equitable solution.

 

Thought for the Day:

Looking into each other’s eyes during a discussion enables us to see within the windows of each other’s soul; speaking honestly about how our partner’s words and actions make us feel will help us to understand one another better too and to make our interactions more intimate and productive. – Matthew 6:22-23

 

Advertisements

Emotional and Mental Health – Healing our Thoughts and Emotions

It is healthy for us to take an inventory of our thoughts and feelings every day (John 7:24). This prevents negative thoughts and emotions from piling up in our soul and exploding at the least provocation.

 

Satan’s lies, our own insecurities and neurosis from our past, and the world’s judgment on us keep us captive to negative thinking. Yet, God’s Word admonishes us to take our thoughts captive in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

We tend to dwell on this temporal earth embroiled by human reasoning and trapped by the hour glass of time – still eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and attempting to save our self (Genesis 2:17, 3:5).

 

These negative constraints affect our thoughts and emotions. We attempt to improve our self, but whatever is conceived by the flesh can be aborted by the flesh. We live on a hamster’s wheel – always running, but getting nowhere fast. However, there is hope for us in God (Psalm 63:2:5; Romans 15:13).

 

God chose us and loved us while we were still sinners (John 15:16; 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8). At salvation, He makes us His Children and co-heirs with Jesus (Galatians 3:26; 1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17). His Spirit is building us into His house (Hebrews 3:6).

 

We cannot craft any lasting changes to our character in order to earn His love. He makes us clean – not by our good deeds and intentions, but by the blood of Christ (John 15:3; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Psalm 127:1).

 

Jesus makes us wise, righteous, redeemed and a new creation; so that we glory in the Lord rather than to take the credit (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Christ in us continually draws us into a more intimate union with Himself and our Father (Colossians 1:20). We simply obey (John 14:15).

 

Prayer:

 

Father God, Your love frees us from doubt and condemnation, which are fed to us by our own insecurities, the world’s condemnation and Satan’s lies. Please draw our loved ones away from the seduction of this world, deliver them from the lies of the devil, and allow them to feel Your love and conviction cascading over them like a waterfall.

 

In You there is no shame for our failings and idiosyncrasies, only love and acceptance just the way we are (Romans 5:8). Your Spirit perfects us through a lifetime of sanctifying exercises (1 Thessalonians 5:23). You make us one with You and Jesus Christ through His residing presence and Your Spirit’s sanctifying work in us until You become our whole life (Colossians 3:3-4).

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus is one with us in spirit and in truth; and He brings us into His rest in His perfect peace and love as we keep our soul focused on Christ in us. – Colossians 1:27; Isaiah 26:3

 

Emotional and Mental Health – The Center of God’s Will

Most people are either on top of the world right now, or buried under the burden of frustration, discouragement and disappointment. Jesus Christ makes the difference in both of these instances.

 

Even if someone is totally successful and right where their goals led them over the last few years, they may be as unsatisfied and unfulfilled as they were when they started their journey to the top.

 

Many people give up at this point and opt for a simpler life, downgrading their salary and vocational expectations for a quieter and less stressful lifestyle.

 

For Believers, living in the center of God’s will is the only place where we find complete contentment. He may continue to lead us in the vein in which we started – adding an altered mindset, or He may change our circumstances completely.

 

It all hinges on finding and fulfilling God’s directives for our life (Proverbs 3:5-6). We completely surrender our will and plans to Him, and live by the direction of His Holy Spirit instead of our human desires.

 

Even if God leads us through some valley or trial, we find His purpose for us in it. We can witness of His mercy and grace to a fellow traveler, learn a needed lesson, view His provision for us in a whole new light, and grow in our intimacy with Him through it all (1 Peter 4:12).

 

We learn to depend on His Body during our trials, to grow closer to our spouse, family and church family; our faith grows in the fact that we can count on certain people to help us and that God never fails us.

 

Prayer:

Father God, some trials devastate us to our very core. They shake the foundations of our trust in You and our faith in humanity. Yet, we often survive these unhappy circumstances with enduring blessings that we never would have experienced without them. Remind us to focus on You in the good times and the bad, giving You praise for each instance as we focus on You – You never change (Hebrews 13:8).

 

Help us to see life from Your viewpoint rather than our limited, human perspective. Spur us to remain faithful to You in spite of them. We look at life now through Your unfailing love and comfort, according to Your promises and provision (Psalm 119:75-76). Demonstrate Yourself to us in all of Your power and majesty.

 

Thought for the Day:

Prayerfully surrendering our trials to God allows us to gain His perspective on what seems like a turn of bad luck; we ask God’s Spirit for His wisdom and direction; and we come through these times of testing with a deeper faith and stronger spiritual, mental and emotional fortitude than we ever experienced in our life in the past.

 

 

Saving Grace

 

People today are so turned off by legalism that they pervert the truth that we are forgiven of all sins – past, current and future – and allow sin to grow in their life. They feel no remorse for breaking God’s heart.

 

They sit around drinking beer, wine, cocktails and even hard liquor discussing the Word of God. They smoke their cigars and pipes in church fellowships, and they allow their language to digress to that of a drunken sailor.

 

They feel this is spiritual, because they are breaking the bonds of legalism. They claim that the current church emasculates men and say that the “letter of the law”, in the current evangelical church, prevents them from having a living relationship with our mighty God.

 

I agree that living only according to the “logos” – written Word of God – can mask the sinful desires within a person’s heart. I also agree that a ‘rhema’ – the living Word – relationship is the most important aspect of our salvation.

 

Legalism does kill the spirit, and relationship is more important than religion. However, I also believe that when we actually see the living Jesus, we shrink from living with a license to sin (1 John 2:15).

 

We forsake alcoholism, pornography, gay pride, abortion, adultery and all the other sins, which humanity explains away in our current Laodicean society.

 

The teachings of today’s so-called pastors mirror the gospel taught by the Nicolaitans, whom God hated (Revelations 2:6). These modern men are purporting old age deception cloaked in New Age Lies.

 

Add this to the gnostic element creeping back into the church through Satanic influence and deception, and the post-modern church has a stench that makes God want to vomit (2 Corinthians 11:4; Revelation 3:16).

 

Whatever happened to the holiness that Jesus exemplified for us in His life, calling us to emulate Him in our every thought, word and deed? His Spirit transforms us with the mind of Christ and fills us with His fruit to replace our carnality (Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:15-25).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You make it very clear in the Old and New Testament that You are a Holy God. You call Your Saints to walk in holiness and not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:15-25). You are the righteous judge, and sin grieves Your Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). We do not abound in sin, so that Your grace may abound in us (Romans 6:1).

 

Sin, in any form, is destructive and You protect us from its destruction by Your commandments and directives. If we compromise Your Word, we compromise our own success and blessings. We realize that our sin is already paid for by Christ’s crucifixion, but this fact drives us to a dedication to Your Word, rather than to participate in crucifying Jesus afresh by our lackadaisical dabbling in sin without honest remorse (Hebrews 6:4- 6).

 

Thought for the Day:

Modern “reformed” preachers reject solid Biblical principles and replace them with lifeless, liberal mysticism; they ignore the draw of God’s Spirit to walk in holiness just as our Father God is holy. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

– Hebrews 4:12, 13:8; 1 Peter 1:16.

God Uses Satan for His Purposes

The devil cheated Adam and Eve out of their dominion over the earth by his deception, manipulation and lies. This was part of God’s eternal design. What Satan plans to use to harm us, God means for our good (Genesis 50:20).

 

Satan also schemed in his heart to destroy Jesus and to protect his place as the god of this world. Yet, Jesus went to the cross with joy in His heart as He focused on the glory awaiting Him in Heaven (Hebrews 12:2).

 

We live life with this same joy in our own hearts, regardless of our circumstances, looking forward to sitting together with Christ and serving Him for eternity (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:8 10; Ephesians 1:21, 2:4-6).

 

There is no need for us to spend time fighting Satan. We draw near to God, resist the devil and he must flee from us (James 4:7). Satan has no authority of his own. He can only do the bidding of our Father God.

 

For example, Jesus, the Lamb of God, who is opening the seal, bowl and trumpet judgments during the Great Tribulation, directs the plans and purposes of the anti-Christ (Revelation 5:2-10).

 

God uses Satan for His eternal purpose on the earth. He gives Satan the power to employ sin’s temptation to draw hearts away from God, which were never sold out to Him in the first place.

 

These people sit on the fence, giving lip-service to God and serving and giving to God’s Kingdom; but they are just going through the motions (Mathew 7:22). They were never truly converted in their spirit.

 

When we totally surrender our will to God in salvation, His Spirit enters our spirit. He directs our every thought, word and deed. We actually become the love of Christ to the world of lost humanity around us (John 2:12-14; Exodus 33:13).

 

Prayer:

Father God, as authentic Believers, we submit to You, then resist the devil, and he has to flee from us (James 4:7). This does not mean our tribulation in life will end, but that You love us and make us more than conquerors through every trial (Romans 8:37). We can trust in You through everything that we experience in life, because You care for us (1 Peter 5:7).

 

You even make all of our paths straight because of our enemies (Psalm 27:11; Zechariah 4:7). Jesus is exalted in us as we overcome life’s hurdles. He makes us His joint heirs by His power within us (1 John 3:2; Ephesians 3:6). We find our true self, hidden with Christ in You (Colossians 3:3). Help us to respond to You when You call us out of sin into Your glorious life (1 Peter 2:9).

 

Thought for the Day:

Problems are simply opportunities for God to prove Himself strong on our behalf; we find out what He is doing in every situation and then join Him.

Emotional and Mental Health – Limiting Anxiety

Life is insecure at best and terrifying at its worse. People say that bad things happen in threes, but at times in my life, I have counted five or six stressful catastrophes in a row.

 

I learned early on in life not to expect anything good to happen. That way, when good did happen, I was mildly pleased; but when it did not occur, I was not overly disappointed either.

 

As an authentic Believer, we learn to cast all of our anxious thoughts on God’s strong shoulders – to leave them in His benevolent heart and to have faith in His faithfulness instead of in people (Mark 10:22; 1 Peter 5:7).

 

As we turn our attention away from our self and onto helping other people, we continue to heal from anxiety. This brings inner peace because we help to ease another’s burdens and we find fulfillment in sharing our abilities and resources.

 

As we pray during each moment for God’s will and direction, we acknowledge that God is in control of our life (Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:6-8). This reduces anxiety quicker than any mantra or affirmation we can repeat.

 

God orders our steps and gives us the grace to enter into His rest (Hebrews 13:5). His presence in our life allows Him to provide serenity in anxious situations. He helps us to set priorities and to follow them.

 

This habit is comforting and provides us with a routine to which we can establish and adhere. Routine limits anxious feelings and defines our responsibilities according to the will of God, rather than our own stressful agenda.

 

I do not hide from life any longer. I know from experience that our Daddy God is faithful, I experience security by walking in His presence and praying without ceasing, and I find fulfillment and peace in the comfort of the shadow of His wings.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that prayer is not created for us to manipulate You or to demand that You do our bidding in our way and timing. Our communication with You is for our benefit, however; and we do not need to wait for a crisis, which we can no longer control before we come to You. We wait in silence until we discover Your will for us during each moment of our day.

 

Thank You for giving us Your peace, which transcends any comfort the world attempts to provide for us. You are only a prayer away; and yet we fail to avail our self to the intimacy of our union with You. Thank You for abiding within us with Your presence and for filling us with Your Spirit and fruit.

 

Thought for the Day:

God is not our puppet to manipulate according to our will, but our Savior and King whom we willingly serve according to His will and way; He is not obligated to grant our wishes, but He chooses to give us only the best that we need to live a fulfilling life.

 

God is the Holy One of Israel; yet, He cares for each one of us individually, regardless of our circumstances. He is our redeemer and our strong tower (Isaiah 41:13-14; Psalm 46:1).

 

He actually holds our hand when we are afraid, and He promises to help each one of us. When we allow fear to overwhelm us, we fall into its trap; but when we trust the Lord, He keeps us safe (Proverbs 29:25; Psalm 34:4).

 

We see how Jesus calmed the storms for His disciples, and He abides within us and protects us as well (Mark 4:39-40). The angel of the Lord actually camps around those who honor God with their life, and He delivers us (Psalm 34:7).

 

Even if we are reviled or falsely accused when we are living righteously, God will reward us for it. Regardless of what any person says about us or threatens us with He is our defense (1 Peter 3:14; Deuteronomy 3:22).

 

God places His redeeming hand on our life, encourages us not to give place to fear and reminds us that He is our all in all (Revelation 1:17). He took on the form of a man in order to save us.

 

All He asks of us is to believe in Him (Mark 5:36). In failing to believe, we condemn our self to eternal damnation (John 3:18). In our belief, we accept God’s eternal plan for our life (John 3:6-17).

 

Nothing we do, think or say, or anything that is in heaven or on the earth, can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). We are eternally His child and He loves us unconditionally.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You actually rejoice over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). We dwell in the shadow of Your wings and You give us shelter and rest. You are our refuge and fortress in this world of unrest, and we trust in You. Your faithfulness is a shield and strong tower for us. We have nothing to fear in the day or the night.

 

You give Your angels charge over us to keep us. Even if we fall, they are there to sustain and guard us. Since we love You, You rescue us, and You protect us when we walk in Your will and ways. We call on You and You answer us, deliver us and give us honor in any sort of trouble (Psalm 91:1-16).

 

Thought for the Day:

Since the Lord is with us, there is no reason for us to feel fear. Man can do nothing to us if God is right there with us, helping us and delivering us from every sort of evil. – Psalm 118:6-7