Tag Archives: marriage

The Watch and the Ring

The Watch and the Ring

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  Genesis 1:27

I am thankful for my wife.  I am glad that she is different than me!  If we were identical in personality and physicality why would I need her?  Better yet – Why would she need me?

God made men and women with differences on purpose and it is these differences that add great variety and… value to an individual person.

The role of men and women in the home or in the church has nothing to do with value or worth and everything to do with function and role.  If a body has two heads we would know the body will have conflict and issues.  Dr. Adrian Rogers used to preach that a body with “two heads is a freak.”  For sure it is not natural, nor intended for a body to have 2 heads trying to tell the body what to do. Science fiction is just that- science fiction.  Some people want science fiction to be true in their marriage relationship or in their home or church.  It is just not healthy to have two heads vying to be in charge.

 

The head of the church is Jesus.  For order & structure in the home, God says the man is the “head.”  Study the New Testament book of Ephesians chapter 5.

Men, don’t let that go to your head; and women, don’t think that this structure excludes or devalues you.  “To whom much is given much is required.”  If a home succeeds or not – is a responsibility charged to the man. He is held accountable by the Lord.  Men are not to be dictators.  Leaders are to be servants. A husband should be bending over backward to make life easy for his wife.

This organizational structure contributes to a happy and healthy home where the “two” have truly become “one.”

Men and women are of equal value, even if their role and function is not the same.  Here is a valid example:

Recently, I was looking at my wrist watch and my wedding band, both of which my wife gave to me.  Both are made from shiny silver looking metal.  They are made of the same stuff but are different in form and function.

  • The wedding band’s function is to prove that I belong to Natalie.
  • The wrist watches’ function is to keep me “on time.”

While both are made of similar materials and have a different function and role in my life, the watch and the ring have the same value.  The retail value of either one is about $200.

Function and role does not determine value.  Each person in your home should be HIGHLY VALUED…

 

 

 

 

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Did You Think To Pray?

Did You Think To Pray?

Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Psalm 88:9

We pray when we are in trouble.  It is easy to turn our thoughts to Heaven when we have a big problem or a predicament that we are in.  For most people, the first time they fervently pray is when hey are in trouble.  Affliction drove the psalmist to pray every single day.  He actively sought the Lord lifting up “holy hands” to God, begging for His deliverance, guidance, and help.

What if we learned to pray before the big problem comes?  How would an active prayer life before the trouble arises help us navigate the storms of life?  It think it would make a big difference.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of preachers” said “All the Christian virtues are locked up in the word prayer.”

The daily discipline of open communication with God, asking and receiving, better known as prayer, can change your life. There are several ways prayer affects not only the situation, but the one doing the praying.

Prayer calms the soul.  Prayer creates a connection with God. Prayer confirms our relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus.  Make it a daily practice to spend time with God in prayer.

I leave you with the words of Mary Kidder in her hymn “Did You Think to Pray?”

  1. Ere you left your room this morning,
    Did you think to pray?
    In the name of Christ our Savior,
    Did you sue for loving favor,
    As a shield today?

Refrain:
Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

  1. When you met with great temptation,
    Did you think to pray?
    By His dying love and merit,
    Did you claim the Holy Spirit
    As your guide and stay? [Refrain]
  2. When your heart was filled with anger,
    Did you think to pray?
    Did you plead for grace, my brother,
    That you might forgive another
    Who had crossed your way? [Refrain]
  3. When sore trials came upon you,
    Did you think to pray?
    When your soul was bowed in sorrow,
    Balm of Gilead did you borrow
    At the gates of day?

 

 

The Gift of God (Part 2)

The Gift of God (Part 2)

‘One man in a church was boasting to his friend, “I could give $1,000.00 towards the building and not even feel it.”

His friend replied, “Then give two or three thousand and feel it!”’

Everyone likes gifts.  Receiving gifts is a blessing but it even more blessed to be able and to actually give a gift to others.  Acts 20:35 tells us to: “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

One anonymous person aptly stated: “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God.”  Good thought.  We should give our lives back to the Lord in service.

Let us continue our consideration of the “Gift of God.”  There are 3 more passages with this insightful phrase.  Each of these have more to do with using the gift that God has given to us – to serve and minister to other people.

  • God’s Gifts Cannot Be Bought: Acts 8:20 instructs, “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”

Peter is in Jerusalem when the news from Samaria concerning the preaching of Philip and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is spoken about.  Phillip is casting out demons, healing people, and preaching the Gospel – all in the power of God.  Peter and John are sent by the Apostles in Jerusalem to confirm the testimony they were told, and together these two men walk to Samaria.

When Peter arrives, a man named Simon is determined to talk with Peter.  Simon formerly had been a sorcerer, but had renounced demonic powers and had turned to Jesus with faith in the Gospel.

By the Way:  There is much temptation for Christian families to be entertained by evil books and TV.  Harry Potter, and many similar books and movies that portray sorcerers and wizards as the hero should be avoid, discarded, and not allowed to influence our kids.  Demonism is real and is growing in popularity today.  It is now mainstream and even popular.  What kid would not like to have supernatural powers?  Satanic activity is real and we must guard our homes in active ways lest our kids be led astray.

Well, this man Simon, had demonic power before, and now that he was a believer in Jesus he realized that the prestige and power he once had was gone.  I do not believe he was regretting turning to Jesus.  He was however coveting what he saw in Peter.

Part of Peters purpose for this journey was to see how the Holy Spirit of God was working in Samaria.  When Peter laid hands on these people who had previously believed in Jesus for salvation – the Holy Spirit came upon them.  This study could diverge into the doctrine of the Pneumatology (Holy Spirit) but we will not now.   These saved people had not yet received the Holy Spirit.

Simon sees this tremendous moving of the Holy Spirit and he wanted the power to give the Holy Spirit to other people too!  He was still thinking in occultist terms.  Peter directly tells him that the Holy Spirit cannot be bought.

The Spirit of God is a gift that God gives to Christians when they are born of the Spirit, or born again.  The Gift of God cannot be bought.  While Simon wanted to serve others by giving them the Spirit, that is not the way it works.  The Holy Spirit of God worked through  Phillip and Peter and He can also work through you.  Our main problem is that we tend to think in humanistic terms.  We tend to try to live the Christian life and conduct the work of the ministry in the flesh or with our intellect.

Thank God for His Holy Spirit who will lead, guide, direct, and empower you to fulfill the will of God.

  • God’s Gift Should Be Cherished: 1 Corinthians 7:7 teaches, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”

Most of us are not like the man in the following story: “Probably the only man in history who never saw a woman was Mihailo Tolotos, a monk who died in 1938 at the age of 82 in one of the monasteries atop Mount Athos, Greece. As his mother passed away when he was born, Mihailo was taken to Athos the next day and never once, throughout his life, left this monastic colony which has excluded all females, animals as well as humans, for more than 900 years.”  (Signs of the Times)

The context of 1 Corinthians 7 is marriage and family. Paul is teaching the Corinthian believers who lived in a sex-crazed, and immoral society how they should remain celibate if unmarried and how to remain pure through marriage.

While Peter was married, had a family, and a mother in law, Paul was never married.  Paul, the iconic missionary, had tremendous freedom to travel and be away from home for years at a time because he was not married.

As 1 Corinthians 7 develops we find that the gift of God that Paul is speaking of concerning personal marriage relationships differs from person to person.  Consider the following:

If a specific man is supposed to be married and it is God’s will that he has a family – then the wife God gives to him is a special gift from God.  In this case – marriage is a gift of God.

If a particular man is not to be married and it is God’s will that the man remain single – then singleness is a gift of God.

If a man marries and it is not God’s will, or he marries a person that the Lord says not to marry (according to clear Bible teaching) then becoming a husband would become a nightmare instead of a blessing.

By the Way: Living together before marriage is like unwrapping a gift before it has been given to you.  There are many spiritual and psychological reasons this is a harmful practice.  Perhaps that could be a post on another day.  Until you are married – the gifts included in the broader gift of marriage (sex, kids, family, accountability, leadership, and union) are not yours – yet.  Wait until the “I Do.” To unwrap your marriage gift.

Many people are living a nightmare in relationships because they marry outside the will of God, the Word of God, or do not accept the specific gift of God – the gift of marriage or the gift of singleness.  Whichever of these two gifts God gives to you – cherish it.  Both gifts are temporary in nature.  Embrace whichever one God has for you at this moment.

  • God’s Gift Should Be Remembered. 2 Timothy 1:6 encourages, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”

With each gift we receive of the Lord, we should be deliberate to remember, and be thankful for those gifts. Should we not consistently remind ourselves of all that God has given, we will forget.  Human nature is good at tucking blessings away into forgetfulness, and merely thinking on problems or things we do not have.

May God help us to frame our minds with consistent thinking of God’s gifts as Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

In 2 Timothy 1, Paul is reminding young pastor Timothy about how the Holy Spirit of God had called, equipped, and empowered Tim for the task of Christian service.  Timothy was a preacher, a pastor.  Does The Holy Spirit do the same in our lives?  The answer is yes.

Even if you are not “paid time” in the ministry, we are all to be “full-time” in the ministry.  Remember the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 8?  The Holy Spirit has gifted each believer with a specific “Spiritual Gifts.”  Do you know what your Spiritual Gift is?  There are 6 Spiritual Gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8.  We have a “Spiritual Gifts” test at our church office if you want to stop on sometimes to discover your specific gift.  Utilizing your gift will help you be more effective in Christian service.

When God’s people all prioritize faithful service much good is accomplished.   Our family enjoys flying kits on warm breezy days.  When a kite is flown into the air, the question could be asked: “Who Flew the Kite?”

“‘I did,” said the wind!

“I did,” said the paper!

“I did,” said the string!

“I did,” said the boy! But in reality they ALL flew the kite! If the wind had lulled, if the paper had torn, if the sticks had broken, if the tail had caught in the tree, or the boy had fallen, then the kite would have come down! EACH HAD A PART TO PLAY!

God has placed you in a strategic role! You are important to your church ministry. Just use your gift to the Glory of God and leave the results to Him.”  (Communicating Biblical Truths)

Be stirred up, excited, and focused on the good work that the Holy Spirit of God can do in your life.  There is much to complain about, and many problems that we could be pre-occupied with, but by God’s grace, you can remained stirred up and focused on the specific ministry and service God has for you.

Thank the Lord for each gift He has given.

 

 

 

 

Marathon Marriages

Marathon Marriages 

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Ephesians 5:31

I have never aspired to run a Marathon.  Running for 26 miles is an incredible achievement that I may never arrive at.  If I am not chasing after a ball (basketball, baseball, even a golf ball) it is difficult to want to run.

Marriage is a teaming up of two people for fulfilling God’s plan for the family.  God ordained a man and woman to come together to form a new unit called and He even called them “one.”  In marriage a couple can enjoy life, procreate children, and establish a home.

Mistrust, jealousy, and misunderstandings all create greater possibilities for divorce.  The culture emphasizes “do what you want” in relationships to the neglect of honoring the spouse you have declared your commitment to.  Notice how definitive this commitment is in Ephesians 5:31, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Two become one.  That is real commitment.  

This marriage commitment changes the daily lives of the couple.  The physical, emotional, and spiritual beings that we are unite together in marriage.  Becoming “one” could mean a man and woman now share the same e-mail accounts.  It could be getting a new e-mail name that reflects your marriage union.   It could be that all the social media platforms are shared or at least, both partners have password access to those accounts.  These are just samples of how the concept of “two become one” could look in the media portion of a marriage.  It takes commitment, trust, and humility for this.  Just as a marathon requires intense commitment, so does marriage.

The following ideas are designed to help you start the Marathon of marriage and finish it.  These “mile markers” that come along the road will not be achieved all at once.  Your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  Arriving at these identifiable marks will take time as well as teamwork.

Here are a few “mile markers” each couple should cross along their race to the finish line.

  • The Cellphone Mile Marker. Back 20+ years ago, it was a big deal when a recently married couple got their first phone number.  They were living separately and then the wedding day came and from that point on, they were happy to give out their new home address as well as their new home phone number.

Today, many couples opt to keep their cell phones without getting a new home landline.  Many even keep their old phone numbers on their parent’s plans.  This may seem harmless, but it is not the healthiest arrangement.  If money is keeping the newlyweds from “joining” their cell phone accounts then they are misguided.  The positive psychological effect of passing a mile marker together totally surpasses saving a few dollars on a bill.

  • The Combining of Checking and Savings Accounts Mark. His and her credit cards or bank accounts are not a good idea.  If a couple is “joining together” then they should do so financially as well.  The love of money could cause the man or the woman not to commit to this idea.  Money is never a good reason for not consolidating the interests of the man and the interests of the woman into one.

In the era of prenuptial agreements, lawyers and clerks who do not have the Bible conviction of marriage will say “save up for a break up.”  The Christian should never look at his marriage as having the potential to fail.  More times than not – it is the same love of money that becomes a sore spot and a symptom of hard hearts of people headed for divorce.

  • The $1000 Savings Mile Marker. Many Christian Financial leaders recommend that a couple save up and have $1000 available as an emergency fund.  I recommend you have this in cash, safely kept, yet available in the case of an emergency.  Have you ever been to the store when the credit cards machines are “down.”  If there is another disaster and power is lost, then having cash to buy needed supplies is a good idea.

An article I read recently suggested that with the combined debt of the citizenry of the United States that a person who has no debt and has a $10 bill in his pocket is richer than most folks.  The point is- we should be saving money.  Save money together.  Look at ways to trim your expenses and then celebrate when you arrive at your $1000 goal.

  • The Church Ministry Service Mark. Serving together in a ministry is a great team building exercise.  Bus routes, Sunday School, and Youth Ministry are great places to serve together.  The choir, special music, greeters, and sound /media production are all enriched by the service of competent couples working together.  Embracing ministry together grows the husband and wife closer emotionally and spiritually and they may see their consistent labor bloom into viable fruit they can see.
  • The Car Purchase Marker. Researching, deciding, and settling on a car can be nerve-wracking, but it can be an accomplishment for the couple to win in together.  Driving the emotions of an item as big as a vehicle will cause great consideration in each spouse to reveal his or her thoughts.  Avoiding research, neglecting mutual decisions, and not learning to “settle” on an issue like this can feed a common problem among couples: a lack of investment.  A vehicle is a big deal, but it is not as big a deal as when you decided to get married.  Avoiding big scenarios is a way of being ill prepared for bigger life challenges that a couple will encounter.  By the way: the car does not have to be brand new.  “New to you” at 2-3 years old is a great price point and will give you a vehicle with a lot of life left in it.  A cash purchase of a nearly new vehicle is a terrific milestone in marriage.
  • The House Purchase Mark. A historically important characteristic of freedom loving Americans is the opportunity to buy a house.  Sometimes houses are inherited and sometimes spouses will live at the house the other had before they were married.  It is helpful to visit, consider and purchase together.  The victory of a house purchase and then paying off that purchase is monumental.  It is a big mile-marker.
  • The Giving Mile Marker. The Bible teaches that we labor in order to give.  Ephesians 4:28 says, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  With your spouse, deciding to give large gifts to others or to church ministry can be very satisfying.  I know several couples that have given away cars to friends, family, and church ministers.  One couple has given 7-8 good vehicles to other people in recent years.  They just were looking for ways to help others and to encourage some of God’s people.  The result of your combined effort at work, saving, and living and bring about generous giving to the work of the Lord.  This is a mile marker that starts with the basics of money discipline and bringing a tithe to God from your combined income.  Start with the 10 percent and see how big of an impact you can make together in giving above and beyond to others and to the Lord.

Achieving something worthwhile takes time and teamwork.  Your marriage is a marathon.  Run the race of life together.  Marathon marriages have been won the world over.  Perhaps you know a couple or two who have raced their entire lifetime together.  With God – all things are possible.

Will I Ever Get Married?

“Will I Ever Get Married?”

The Emotional Well-Being of Singles (From the book: “How Do You Feel Today?”)

IMG 1378

‘In Sunday school they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny, a child in the kindergarten class, seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs. Later in the week, his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, “Johnny, what’s the matter?”  Johnny said, “I don’t feel well, I think I’m having a wife.”’ (Ministry 127)

It is the dream of most boys and girls to be married one day.  Children play “house” with their dolls, Legos, and other toys.  Families where love, acceptance, and proper discipline are found are homes where this desire is nurtured, and how to be a good spouse is modeled and taught.

As children grow into their teens, their minds and bodies become increasingly aware of the opposite gender.  Parents, please be sure to give instruction, and follow up with that instruction for healthy thinking concerning the goal of courting/dating (marriage), and how to remain pure.

Dr. Jim Schettler says: “It is better to wait and know it, than to date and blow it.”  Dating is not just a pastime or entertainment proposition:  emotions of the heart are not to be toyed or played around with.  Date with intention. The goal of dating or courting is to determine if marriage is God’s intention for you and the other person.

Not everyone is called to be married.  Paul challenges some of the believers in Corinth to give their lives solely to the Lord so that they could “attend upon the Lord without distraction.”  The “Gift of Singleness” is found in I Corinthians 7.  The Lord has equipped some people so well that they may not need a helpmeet, and their service to the Lord may be just as effective or more so because of their marital status.  For example, there have been unmarried men who serve in mission fields where one cannot take a family.  Verse 33 (I Cor. 7) states: “But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”  If you have a burning desire for marriage, ask the Lord to bring the person He for you into your life.  1 Corinthians 7:2 informs us: “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”  It is better to get married than to “play house” with another adult and act like you are married.  Many people are in sinful relationships today, when God is calling them to legitimize their relationship.

What are some qualities I should work on while waiting for marriage?  This is a great question!  In Genesis 24, we read about Isaac and Rebekah.  Here are two people who desired to someday be married, but were not pushing or rushing to marriage.  They were consistent to work on their personal and spiritual qualities that would later help their marriage.

Genesis 24:62-67 tells this marriage story.  “And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.  And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.  And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.  For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?  And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.  And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.  And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

As Isaac was waiting to be married, two main qualities stand out:  Isaac was hard-working and was involved in healthy worship of the Lord.  We can also discover qualities Rebekah possessed as a single person that later enabled her to be a good wife:  Rebekah was considerate of others and she was modestly clothed.  Let’s look at each of these qualities…

Hard Working.  Some people work at their play, play at their work, worship their sleep, and sleep in their worship.  Isaac was not like that.  Isaac was in the fields working when he first saw the love of his life.  He was consistent in the tasks of the family business in herding sheep and digging wells.  He was not like the Prodigal Son who, in the New Testament, went and spent all he had on “riotous living.”  Isaac was working, serving, and being faithful to his jobs and daily obligations.

Healthy Worship.  Did you notice how Isaac was meditating in the evening?  The word meditate involves musing and praying.  As his thoughts were turned to the Lord, the Lord answered his prayer for a wife.  While meditating, he heard some people traveling his way. He looked up from his moments with the Lord and saw his father’s servant coming back from the journey to search for a bride for Isaac.  Abraham was encouraging Isaac to be married and sent this servant to find a bride of the same faith to be the wife of Isaac.  Our custom today may be different, but the direction of whom to marry is not.  By God’s grace, determine today to only date or marry a person who is a Christian actively growing and serving the Lord.  Proverbs 18:22 encourages, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”  This word find does not necessarily imply looking and searching, but rather to “come upon.”  Some young people are so infatuated with the idea of a date or the prospect of getting married that they force an effort to “find” a spouse.   It would be better to work on being who God wants you to be than to look for a person to marry.  As you trust the Lord, He will bring that person into your life.

You don’t want to date just anyone – there should be more qualifications besides being the opposite gender. “One of the most famous naval battles of history was the Battles of Actium, fought September 2, 31 B.C., between the fleets of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra on one side, and the fleet of Octavian, afterward Augustus Ceasar, on the other.  In the midst of the engagement, the war galley of Cleopatra withdrew from the battle, and the infatuated Anthony deserted his fleet to follow the Queen of the Nile. Thus, Anthony relinquished his great leadership for a vain woman.” (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times)

Isaac was actively working on his relationship with the Lord.  Before texting, sending an e-mail, or calling that significant other you may be interested in, have you met with God?  Make sure worshipping the Lord is at the top of your priority list.  Had Isaac been a rebel to the Lord or run after a life of sin, the story would have been much different.  Abraham had brought Isaac up to fear God and serve Him.  You may or may not have a Christian family background, but you can determine to have a Christian family if the Lord gives you a spouse.

Consideration of Others.  The first glimpse we get of Rebekah is a beautiful one.  She is helping a total stranger by drawing water from the well.  She not only gives water to Abraham’s servant Eliezer, but she also draws water and gives it to the camels.  This is no small task! Camels drink a lot of water!  She had a genuine servant’s heart to be so considerate of this man and his animals.  (Read all of Genesis 24 to learn more of this story.)  She went above and beyond what most people would have done.

Most people could grow in this area of consideration. Do you do just barely enough to get by, or do you go the extra mile to serve?  This characteristic says much about your determination to succeed and what it would take you to quit.  Some people fulfill the least expectation and then expect terrific results.  Rebekah exceeded expectations yet did not expect anything in return for herself.  After the servant Eliezer sees the Lord has blessed his journey and answered his prayers, he gives Rebekah earrings and bracelets.  Nearly every girl loves receiving beautiful jewelry, and Rebekah was no different.

Later, Eliezer gives the family treasures and gifts, giving a sort of dowry to display his credibility and proving the groom Isaac was a hard worker and man of ability and substance.   Showing wealth was not the goal, but proving that Isaac was prepared for marriage was important.  Proverbs 24:27 elaborates on this:  “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.”  If a man cannot hold down a job, he may not be ready for marriage.  If a girl does not know how to show consideration and service to others, she may not be ready for marriage.

Selfishness rooted in pride has destroyed many marriages.  Rebekah was definitely not selfish but totally considerate of others.  “Be the right one rather than looking for the right one.”

Modest Clothing.  Before Isaac and Rebekah met, Rebekah covered her face with a veil.  Even today, the wedding veil is a symbol of modesty.   When she knew the man walking towards her was the man she was to marry, she covered herself up more.  This would be a strange proposition to most people today.  The world shouts to take clothes off, yet God says to show respect for yourself and your future spouse by remaining covered.  Modest clothing and a spirit of purity are needed in our families, churches, and society today.

Rebekah was showing Isaac that she treasured their relationship and was looking forward to sharing a pure life with him.  This action of covering also suggests that she was not one to flirt or take relationships lightly.   I heard one young preacher say: “If you are not for sale, don’t advertise.”  That is good advice, particularly for young women and their clothing choices.  Respect yourself.  Respect your future relationship.  Isaac could trust Rebekah in marriage because she was trustworthy before they were married.

Has God called you to marriage?  One day, He may bring your path across the path of another and show you that this is the one to marry.  Until that day comes, work at being the Christian God wants you to be, developing these Godly characteristics in your life.  Having these 4 characteristics will help you to have stable emotional well-being.

In my life, the Lord blessed the desire for marriage only after I stopped “looking” for a wife.  When I buckled down to what the Lord had called me to, the Lord brought my wonderful wife into my life.   Let Psalm 37:4 be true in your life: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  Marriage is such an important God-given institution.  It can make your life grand or make your life a disaster if entered into flippantly.  Be patient, wait on the Lord, and seek His will. 

Any Candy in Your Chocolate Box?

Any Candy in Your Chocolate Box? 

Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

Imagine a gushy eyed young man looking in the face of his beautiful bride to be.  They are talking about how much they love one another and how wonderful life is with each other.  As she is intently gazing into his eyes he suddenly presents a HUGE box of chocolates.  This is the biggest box of Russell Stover chocolates that she has ever seen!  She smiles in amazement at this gift as he had hands the box to her.  She loves fine chocolate – what a thoughtful gift! A box this big must have cost a lot.  She thought momentarily “He must really love me.”  As her hands wrap around the box he says: “This was the best candy I have ever ate.  Your favorite peanut crunchy pieces were so tasty.”  She opens the box and it is empty!  Her man had eaten all of the candy in the box.

Imagine a similar scene.  The chocolate box is small, heart shaped, but it actually has candy in it.  As the girl opens the box the rich aroma of fine chocolate touches her senses.  She reaches in and enjoys a creamy taste of heaven and is appreciative of the thoughtful gift from her man.  While there are only three pieces, these are pieces that they share together.

Which man is really showing love towards his bride to be?  The one who gave box of chocolate that actually had candy in it.

Many times we say we “love someone” but they are empty words.  The love we may really display is selfish love; loving ourselves rather than loving others.  We are born selfish – it is called the sin nature.  It is easy to choose to love yourself.  It is something divine to show real love to other people.

Love is a tremendous choice that touches our emotions.  Love is more than an emotion, feeling, or an expression.  Love is giving to other people.  Let’s open up the box of chocolate and discover what real love is.

Love is Comprised of Actions.  In John 14:15 Jesus says “If ye love Me keep my commandments.”  Action towards Christ is needed to demonstrate love for Him.   The same is true in our relationships.  If we love someone we will show actions of love toward them.  Love could be taking out the garbage.  Love could be sharing the last doughnut.  Love could be making coffee early in the morning for your spouse.  What are some actions can we do towards others that can show love?

Giving is a great place to start.  In John 3:16 we find that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  God’s Agape love toward us is a giving love.  We could emulate the Lord and give of our time, talent, or even treasure to other people.  From time spent with me, to golf clubs, and gift cards, and notes of encouragement, I have enjoyed the love of people giving to me.

Sharing is a tremendous way to show love.  Jesus is the eternal God Who shares everlasting life and Heaven with those who trust Him for their salvation.  Romans 5:8 tells us, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  John 10:28 teaches, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  Could you share time with others, share the blessings of your life with others?  How about special moments or even making memories together?

Caring.  The Lord cares for His people.  1 Peter 5:7 tells us, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  Here we discover God’s love is experienced in how He shows care for us.  The word “careth has to do with taking care, concern, and having an interest.  One person said it well: “It matters to Him what matters to you.”  The Lord is interested in our lives, thoughts, and emotions.  We too can show love by showing an interest in other people.  Listen to others.  Learn what is going on in their lives.  Know their favorite things to eat, activities to be a part of, and the cares they have in life.

Bearing. In a similar fashion as Caring, Galatians 6:2 instructs: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”   The law of Christ starts with loving God above all else.  This law continues by loving thy neighbor as thyself.    You can help a person through a tough time by “Feeling their pain.”  What a blessing you can be in bearing a burden by helping them up.  Perhaps a person feels rejected, you can help them.  Maybe they feel all alone; you can let them know that they are not alone.  Many people have difficulty formulating right thoughts and looking at situations in a Biblical way.  They may be depressed or discouraged because of faulty thinking.  You can help them think right, and bear their burden.

Love Is Active in Forgiving.  Love covers sin according to Proverbs 10:12 states, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”   This does not mean that justice should not be sought or that civil law should not be enforced.  If someone is being hurt, that sin must be accounted for.  This has to do with personal relationships and how you are looking at other people. Clark said of this verse: “Hatred stirreth up strifes—It seeks for occasions to provoke enmity. It delights in broils. On the contrary, love conciliates; removes aggravations; puts the best construction on every thing; and pours water, not oil, upon the flame.”  Anyone can look for the wrong in a spouse, co-worker, or child.  It is something we must decide to do everyday – forgive other people.  Love is actively looking for ways to forgive and let that forgiveness be known.

Forgive With Your Mind.  Hebrews 8:12 tells us about how God sees our sin as Christians, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Again in Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”  God knows everything, but He chooses not to think about some things!  Following God’s example you will not thinking about their wrong, but looking on how to help them do right. We will not be fixated on a hurt, but focused on what is good about them.  The Human mind is greater than the best computers.  The human mind cannot forget.  Even though we both forgot many things from 5 days ago or even 5 minutes ago, the human mind does not forget.  What we experience, hear, say, and do are etched in our minds forever.  When we forget something, it has more to do with the way that we file information.  Like the library book system, if we can file things in an effective manner we can bring back that information when we need it.  The point is – you may never be able to forget, but you can choose to not remember.   If you continually think about a past hurt or pain that someone caused you, you cannot forgive them.  If you choose to control your mind and push those negatives to the back of your mind, you will be able to forgive because you are thinking like God thinks towards you and your sin.

Forgive With Your Mouth.  When we control what we say about others, it makes forgiveness more possible.   Proverbs 17:9 continues this truth by declaring:  “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Want to destroy a relationship?  Go around telling other people everything that other person ever did that was wrong.  List their sins; give an account as if you were the one committing the sin.  Expose the fact that they are sinners too.  You will destroy that relationship.  Love does not do that.  If we repeat wrongs, not only are our minds wrong, we are changing the mind of others towards another person to think less highly of the one we are speaking about.  Marriages, parent/child relationship, and classrooms have all been affected by evil speaking like this.  Some people pour kerosene on fires to keep the fire going.  Some people pour gasoline.  It is hard to pour gasoline on a fire and not get burnt.  When we keep talking about other sinners, we are playing with fire and it will come back to hurt us.

Forgive With Your Motive.  My first question when someone wants to tell me something negative about another is “What is their motive?  Why are they saying this?  Usually it is one of two reasons either Pride or Pain.  In Pride, they are pointing out that they are better than that person or that “they would never commit that sin.”  In Pain, they may be lashing back in a way to strike back or to injure another like they believe they have been injured.  Be reminded of Christ that when He was reviled and struck, He did not revile or strike back.   When we speak about other people’s sin, we can actually taint their image in the sight of others.  Some wives may speak negatively about their husband.  When they do so, they are damaging him and destroying their relationships with him.  Parents have done this with their children.  What tragedy.  We must have the motive of restoring people as Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” 

Forgive With your Message.  Every day you convey something others. We communicate in verbal communication and non-verbal communication.  Verbal communication includes everything we say and everything we do not say.  While we may not say “I hate you.” By not saying “I love you” some loved ones may not feel loved.  The non-verbal’s also speaks volumes.  Spending time together shows love, but avoiding time with a spouse or a child does not show love.  If there are people you avoid, you may not have really forgiven them.  Of course, if there is potential for abuse, you do not want to be around them; it would be best to stay away from a situation like that if there is danger.  In a general sense, you convey acceptance or unacceptance to other people with the message of your life.  What do you convey intentionally or unintentionally to others?  Every day you and I must purpose to be forgiving of others.

Love is Seeks Victory Each Day.  The Love of God conquers and is victorious every day. As Romans 8:35-39, emphasis:  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Nothing in life can change God’s love for us!  What a wonderful truth!  Our relationships can win like this as well.

I like the old Gospel song:  “Love Found a Way.”  It goes like this:

“Wonderful love that rescued me, sunk deep in sin,
Guilty and vile as I could be—no hope within;
When every ray of light had fled, O glorious day!
Raising my soul from out the dead, love found a way.

Love brought my Savior here to die on Calvary,
For such a sinful wretch as I, how can it be?
Love bridged the gulf ’twixt me and Heav’n, taught me to pray,
I am redeemed, set free, forgiv’n, love found a way.

Love opened wide the gates of light to Heav’n’s domain,
Where in eternal power and might Jesus shall reign.
Love lifted me from depths of woe to endless day,
There was no help in earth below; love found a way.

Love found a way, to redeem my soul,
Love found a way, that could make me whole.
Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
Love found a way, O praise His holy Name!”

God’s love found a way for our salvation!  Love finds a way to win over every obstacle to a healthy relationship.   True love will find a way to make your marriage work.  Find a way to make that soured relationship work – find a way because of love.  Love wins over sin, selfishness, and distractions, past friends, Face book, TV, former fiancés and anything else you can think of.  Love wins when communication is silent, when you are not understood, and when things get dicey.

Love sees common ground.  Don’t fasten onto the differences you may have; stick to complimentary features.  Give compliments instead of complaints.  Show consideration instead of criticism. Have compassion instead of coldness.

Love works it out when there is not much in the bank account or when the job is lost and foreclosure is in sight.  Love works when feelings are hurt.  Love works it out even if the most damaging thing takes place; when trust is lost.  Love will find a way to restore trust.

Conclusion The Bible has many good examples of this selfless love.  One such example is the prophet Hosea.   Hosea is called of God to marry a girl named Gomer.  She is a beautiful woman, a real stunning beauty.  There is a problem however: she is unfaithful in their marriage relationship.  After starting a family, she runs out and has multiple relationships to make money and to live her own way.  Today this is called human trafficking.  In Hosea 3, Hosea buys her back.  By this point Gomer was a slave in this filthy industry.  Hosea 3:2 says, “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:” Thirty pieces of silver was the price for a slave in ancient days.  Hosea gave all he had to buy her from this life of sin she chose to enter because of selfishness.  He did not have enough silver, but he worked hard and had enough grain to make up the difference and he bought his wife back – because of love.  He bought her out of slavery and forgives her because of love!  He gave everything he had to make their relationship work – because of love.

Ladies and gentlemen; if you are married today or hope to be married one day, decide now that you will do whatever it takes to make your relationship work.   Be giving of your love, forgiving in love, and allow love to win in your relationship over everything that could hinder your relationship.  Showing love will change your relationships.  You and I are to love others like God loves us.  Make sure to give a chocolate box with real candy in it.  No selfishness or pretenses, just real and giving –then share your lives together.