Encouragement Makes A Difference in Marriage

Thought: How embarrassing! We were bowling with friends and our families. I was showing off dance moves because I was hitting spares and strikes. On my tenth frame, I was tied in first place and was certain I was going to win. As I took control of my steps and approached the foul line to release my ball, I miss stepped and my entire body falls forward encroaching inside the lane. Game Over! Read more

Maturity, Go the Extra Mile?

Scripture: Read Ephesians 5: 25-30 …a sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love.

 Thought: Who’s the More Mature One in Your Marriage? Going the extra mile isn’t always easy. It might look reasonable and mature. But our flesh doesn’t always enjoy doing reasonable mature things. To get better in this area, it’s important to recognize:

  1. I am not the only one going the extra mile. Sometimes couples can take on a “victim attitude”. They recognize their individual sacrifices but completely fail to see where the other person continually steps up. For example in our marriage, I am the planner. It’s easy to get lost in my little details and all the things “I make happen”…and fail to see everything my husband does (especially because he carries his burdens and sacrifices with much more maturity and self-respect). I have realized it comes down to caring differently, not caring less.
  1. What is important to me? Strong couples dream Still the person with more clarity and passion in one area will sometimes need to step out of the boat first. I used to think that just because we share a common dream meant we have to devote the same amount of time and passion to get the dream accomplished. But that’s not always the case. Right now my husband has more free time than I do. I am able to devote more time to the things we need. In the past, I’d make a lot of noise (mostly mental) about his seeming absence and “day dreaming.” But as I’ve learned to listen to his heart, I’ve come to appreciate the proficiency of teamwork, leaning shoulder 2 shoulder and collaborating. Being a good team player means establishing what we care about and then moving on it… even if I am the first one.
  1. We are gifted differently. Sometimes it’s not that one spouse doesn’t want to do something or that they wouldn’t want to be a certain way. It’s just they are wired differently.What the other spouse likes will never be a natural fit for them. Our temperaments are different. God has a plan for your life that involves using your marriage partner to bring your life into balance and pull you towards the center to make you more like Jesus.  We must learn to be grateful for our spouses, just as they are and be willing to extend the same grace we ourselves received.

Action: Marriage is like a mirror, a reflection of the person we truly are. Not the person we wish we could be. Going the extra mile is all about the character of the person walking that mile. Someone said that “prayer changes things.” I know it changes me, because it’s not about me, it’s about the best interest of my spouse. Take the first step and do a duty for your spouse wash or fuel the car, excuse her from grocery shopping, allow him/her to sleep in, start the dream project and don’t mention it. Instead of playing a victim or raising a conflict, talk to Our Father.

Prayer: Dear God, help me to enjoy life with my spouse and submit to each other with sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love. Grant me courage each day to invest in my marriage, accept the things I cannot change, and wisdom to hear my spouse’s heart. Change me God, help me put you and others first before I put my desires ahead of anything or anyone. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Are You Protecting Your Marriage?

Scripture: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 AND
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Thought: I will never forget when, many years ago, I traveled once a month to market the business I was working for. I would leave my husband for a week, and be on the road, away from home, while meeting new people, attending business meetings and dinner engagements with prospective buyers. There were ALWAYS temptations because of the worldly pressure, wealth and fame. Adultery is not normal in my world and unacceptable in my marriage. Nevertheless, my boss invited me to participate in deceit. I was told, I could” move to “the top of the company, if I slept my way to the top.” No one would know the truth but the man, God and myself.

When we are loyal, we reflect our faithfulness to God. When we are disloyal, we reflect the betrayal of Satan. We live in a fallen world—one that is increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. If we want to live and lead with intention, we can’t be naive. I boldly, yet simply with confidence replied, “If I have to sleep my way to the top and not earn it by my own merit, than I don’t need to be at the top with this company.” We must recognize the temptation adultery poses and protect ourselves accordingly. Nothing will destroy our influence and gifts faster than an affair.

My husband and I have policies in place to avoid danger and to protect our marriage:
 Pray together. We are invested in the relationship we have and we pray together before we leave the house. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you must invest in it. This means investing time—dreaming, laughing, listening, praying and crying together.
 Using old-fashioned, common sense. We set boundaries; Do not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex; Do not travel anywhere alone with someone of the opposite sex, not to the library, a museum, or a business meeting. Do not flirt with someone of the opposite sex. Speak often and lovingly of each other, when out in public and around others.
 Consider what is at stake. Put the temptation in perspective. If Jesus walked in, would I be proud or embarrassed with my decision? How do I want others to remember me? What last impression do I want to leave as a legacy?

Action: Marriage is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.
I truly believe with God all things are possible. Marriages that have not allowed God to be apart of the equation are truly missing out. He’s your biggest fan, and if anyone wants you to succeed and be happy, it is God! So don’t make your life even harder, allow Him to help! Character matters. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Our Father God is counting on us to use the Holy Spirit as our discernment. I believe God will rescue me from anything I ask for. I believe in Him for great things. Are you protecting your marriage?

If your marriage has fallen short or failed, know that God still adores you. His grace overflows upon you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 3.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. My desire is to fight for my marriage in all situations. I pray for your intervention at all times, so I may remain loyal to You and my husband. If we have a fight, please replace anger with love, and pain with forgiveness. Please restore peace to our relationship. It can happen. Give us rest knowing that Your power is made perfect in our weakness.

It’s Not Be Right, But Find Right – Criticism

Scripture: “Let those who have never sinned, throw the first stones!” John 8:7; “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1; “If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and other people will approve of you too.” Romans 14:18

Thought: Infamy, there was a time I use to belittle my husband and children with disapproval. Criticism I felt it was “my job” to draw to their attention the mistake they were making because it wasn’t the choice I would make or think it would be God’s way. I learned that I was only hurting myself and pushing them away because they didn’t feel they could measure up. There is a time and place for healthy criticism, when another person is living in open sin or engaging in a life style that is not right. It is then that criticism can be healing or redemptive, if it is truly constructive criticism. But for the most part, criticism demeans, degrades or humiliates another, often to make the other critical person look better. Depreciating another to make a point or make ourselves look better is sinful, particularly when the devaluing robs the other of a sense of self worth. Constructive criticism should always be a welcome and wholesome gift if given in a spirit of love. But we have no right to give hurting criticism of another, because this is trying to be a judge over that person, and God alone is our judge. Remember you are not God and should not try to do His work for Him. It’s not about being right, its about finding what’s right, good and uplifting for Father God. Believe God for the great answers to prayer.

Action: Before criticizing your spouse, take an inventory of your own sins and shortcomings so that you can approach each other with understanding and humility. And likewise, if you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home with the wise. Take time to pray before you speak.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. I ask for Your help to be constructive with love if You are calling me to act for your glory. I seek Your wisdom when I speak so I may choose Your words, and I knock on your door to show me what is rightfully Your will. Show me Father if my motives are pure before I speak. Amen

Sex in Marriage

Scripture: “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. Read more

Through the Rain and Storms

Scripture: “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be shocked, nor fear them. The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did Read more

Bless Your Spouse

Scripture: Read Romans 14:19 “So then, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

Thought: Blessing your spouse is to speak well of him or her. You can speak well of your spouse to others and you can speak well to your spouse through compliments, words of encouragement, and the small courtesies of life, (which tend to fade after the days of courtship). Blessing your spouse also involves building each other up. Here are a few suggestions from the late Dr. Ed Wheat in his book Love Life.
1. Make a conscious decision never to be critical of your spouse in thought, word, or deed. This should be a decision backed up by action until it becomes a habit that you would not change even if you could.
2. Spend time connecting with your spouse so you can develop sensitivity to the area in which your spouse may feel they lack. Discover creative ways to build your spouse up in those weak areas.
3. Spend time thinking daily of positive qualities and behavior patterns you admire and appreciate in your spouse. Make a list and thank God for these.
4. Consistently verbalize praise and appreciation, and do this in a specific and generous manner.
5. Recognize what your spouse does, but also who your spouse is. Let him or her know that you respect them for what they have accomplished.

Action: How do you bless your spouse and build each other up? Which of Dr. Wheat’s suggestions are presently true in your marriage? Which ones need to be implemented? Take some time today to share a positive quality you see in your spouse. Then with a gratitude attitude, thank the Lord for your spouse.

Prayer: Lord, in everything I give you thanks. You brought _________ into my life to be my spouse. Please remind me not to take him/her for granted, but help me to take captive the thoughts You would have me see and hear to be a blessing to my spouse today.

Forgiven

Scripture: Read Matthew 6:12 “ …and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us…” and Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven whose sin is covered.”

Thought: Matthew West was inspired to write his song, Forgiveness after hearing a mother’s story about losing her daughter to a drunk driver. God used the mother’s faith to release healing into her life by forgiving and the guilty murderer found personal freedom in Christ through her forgiveness. God’s love was her motivation to forgive. Christ died for our sins so that we might live in His Love. This week as I reflect each day on Holy Week, I imagine what Jesus must have sacrificially gone through. At first, on Palm Sunday the crowd praised him, “Hosanna” and then as the week grew closer to his crucifixion, how hard it must have been for him to resist retaliation from the hurt and resentment of the people who shouted, “Crucify Him.” Yet, Christ willingly granted free and full forgiveness. How can Christ not be a part of my life, it’s not about me, it’s about His Love for me.

Action: Is Christ your Life? Can you forgive a wrong and put the matter to rest? Set yourself free today. Lewis B. Smedes wrote, “Forgiveness can clear the bitterness away; it can even set a prisoner free. There is no end to what its power can do. So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of Grace. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Ask God to help you follow Christ’s example of forgiveness towards someone who has wronged you. Listen to Matthew West song, Forgiveness…“Out of the darkness of bitterness and into the light of forgiveness…”

Prayer: Lord, show me how to love the unlovable. Teach me how to reach the unreachable, help me now to do the impossible. Lord, it’s not about me and I praise thee for the gift to be free. Amen, Alleluia, Hallelujah, Praise be to God.

Safety Zone

Scripture: Read James 1:19 “Dear friends, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight”.

Thought: This weekend the check engine light came on in our car. I assumed big bucks to get it repaired, my husband concluded that we only had one vehicle and couldn’t afford to release the car for repair until we found another vehicle to use. Almost immediately we both turned into monsters instead of realizing that we actually had the same goal; the car needed to be fixed! Our communication involved sending and receiving a message of resolution but we failed to evaluate (listen) and discuss (speak) the options. Our choice of communication was not effective and grew into an unsafe zone of fear and anger, creating us both to be defensive. After the storm calmed down, we were able to stand with each other and forgive whatever grievance we had against one another. Our desiring virtues to be humble, to be kind, to be patient, to put on love, connected our situation in perfect unity. We prayed and asked God for forgiveness while sinning in our fear and anger, then asked Him to help us find an affordable mechanic. In deed, we asked God for a great thing and He delivered.

Action: Is your marriage a safe haven? Can you and your spouse be yourselves? Are you free to share and express your dreams, concerns, jokes, disappointment or anything else that makes you who you are? Or do you hide and keep silent for fear of anger, judgment or criticism? Talk about your reactions when the two of you had a disagreement. How did it make you feel and how did it effect the situation? If the two of you connected in communication, how did the situation place you in a safe zone?

Prayer: Lord, I so often jump to a conclusion when I am afraid. My fear can turn to anger and my anger turns to defense. Lord, you tell me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I ask you now Father, help me seek to be humble and not to pass judgment, to knock and search for your peace so my conversations with my spouse are right in your sight and together we are safe in perfect harmony when making decisions.