31
May
16

Opening your Baggage Together

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ

How much do you enjoy packing? I have to say honestly that it is not something I particularly enjoy. In fact, whenever we have a tripped planned, I typically wait until the last possible minute to do it. I have actually tried packing days in advance, but, inevitably, what happens is that I wind up over packing.

Even more than packing, I dislike unpacking. However, what makes that tolerable is when my husband and I do it together. He comes alongside me and pulls out the things that belong to him, and I do the same for my stuff. Although not a particularly fun task, having a partner working with me makes it less objectionable.

We’ve heard it over and over again, “When two people get married, they each bring their own baggage to the mix.” And it’s different for different people. How awesome would it be if, after returning from the honeymoon destination, couples would start unpacking their baggage together? What do I mean by that? Rather than trying to deal with the issues of your past alone and struggle to overcome past hurts and problems, why not take time to get all those things out in the open, sharing from your heart, with your mate doing the same. Remember, you are now one flesh. Just knowing that you have someone to help bear your burdens is priceless.

You may not have been able to do this unpacking during your first few weeks of marriage, but it’s not too late. Make a fresh start and do it now. I know what I am suggesting is asking you to enter a danger zone, and this step must be bathed in much prayer. Obviously, being open and sharing your pasts with each other requires a sacred trust that that information is not something that will not be used as a weapon against you somewhere down the road. Remember those vows that stated, “For better or worse.”? That means the good, the bad and the ugly.

So now what? You’ve unpacked your baggage together. Those bags are tattered, banged up, with scratches and scars. What should you do now? Buy some new luggage!

I often accuse my husband of having a luggage fetish because nearly every time we enter a department store, I can always find him perusing the luggage section. I don’t know what it is, but he is fascinated by it. You and your spouse’s relationship is a whole new creation. It’s time to toss out those old bags and realize that you are starting fresh and new. The most important thing to remember is that God is with you, and He is the mender of all things broken.

31
May
16

Fundamentals

Revelation 2:5 (NKJV) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

I looked up the meaning of fundamental and found it to be defined as pertaining to or constituting a foundation; basic; primary; essential. In the scripture above, the Apostle John quotes a message from Jesus to the church of Ephesus, designed to inspire a sense of urgency for renewed commitment to their relationship with Christ. When I thought of the fundamentals of the marriage relationship, I was reminded of this scripture.

Sometimes in our relationship with Christ and our spouses, we tend to let slip the basic and primary foundations of our connection. The words of appreciation, adoration, and just acts and expressions of love that seemed to flow so easily from our lips and hands have dried up or become lost in the passage of time and familiarity. The places you use to frequent and the activities so often shared have been replaced with lifeless or thoughtless habits that only provide a shadow of the intensity once demonstrated between you and your mate.

I would like to encourage you regarding your marriage as Christ did the church of Ephesus to repent of your lack of passion and once again practice the basic, yet essential, show of attention that won the heart and commitment of your spouse. Remember the excitement that the very sight and sound of your mate use to bring to you and hopefully to them. Resurrect some of the activities and confessions of the past but infuse them with the excitement and knowledge gained through the experience afforded by time spent together.

You may not have the strength or physical stamina of the past, but the thoughts, and true meanings and values of the shared memories can inspire you to devote more time to express your sincere feelings today. Determine to never let the excitement and soul commitment for your relationship to diminish. Strive to find ways to not only maintain the fundamentals of your relationship but to build upon their foundational bonds that will draw you closer and even more in love with your spouse than at the start. Do your first works and see if your skills at perpetuating a love that grows sweeter everyday can be developed and sustained.

24
May
16

Stuck Like Glue

People often say to my wife and I that when they see one of us the other is almost always near by. They have accused us of being joined at the hip or stuck together like glue. Of course we are not actually attached physically, but we would like to believe and diligently pursue being joined in purpose and love for God. The image and reality of our togetherness has come from years of determination to allow God’s plans to be ours. We have chosen to let God be our source of peace, joy, and fulfillment by believing that our union is part of God’s grand strategy to bring contentment to both our lives. We are a husband and wife desperately in love with God and submitted to becoming one flesh in Christ.

Genesis 2:24 (NKJV) Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Looking at the definition of one and flesh from the original Hebrew, it gives us the meaning of “united person”. I believe that God intended for the couple joined in the union of marriage to become a united person. This union would require them, husband and wife, to reorder the priority of father, mother, personal family bonds, and even self beneath that of the one-flesh bond to their spouse.

Society would have us fight for our individuality over the existence of the God-given, one-flesh model for our marriages. The union that grows from marriage must create an “us” that may be very different in some ways from the “you and I” who entered the union. This union development, if orchestrated by God, will not be destructive to any godly plans and character qualities intended for the individual by God. The process of loving and coming to know one another for the purpose of blessing each other is God’s design. God’s intention was to make our lives even more blessed and fruitful by providing adaptive, completing, and helping mates for us to serve Him better in spiritual unity with God.

God’s love was manifested in the creation of the institution of marriage for Adam and Eve, and ultimately you and I. The development and protection of the union of marriage was to be superseded only by the development and defense of our relationship to God. For you see, the love we experience from God is the foundation and format for the loving affection and devotion to be practiced in our marriages. God-centered marriages will be focused on loving and serving each other to the degree they have received love from God and desired to serve Him.

Allow God to be the glue that sticks you and your mate together in unity. Make the personal choice to let God’s love for your spouse to be personally confirmed through you, joined by choice in order to be positioned to receive God’s blessing of a united person marriage.

24
May
16

There is No Perfect Marriage!

Ephesians 4:32 …be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Does that statement discourage or challenge you? I hope it challenges you because, although there is no perfect marriage, every marriage can be amazing with the proper care.

How many couples have we all known that seemed perfect for each other only to find out later that they had divorced? What appeared to be perfect eventually turned sour or even tasteless. Why does this happen? Why do some marriages succeed while others fail? The simplest answer is that somewhere along the line, someone decided to stop obeying God’s Word.

I was one of those people who used to think that in order for a marriage to be successful, it had to be perfect. To this day, I have no idea where that faulty thinking came from, but I now realize that success is not perfection. The correct spelling of success in marriage is W-O-R-K. And it’s hard work at that! I very soon discovered that the “perfection” I was looking for didn’t happen automatically just because we were so much in love.

One of the reasons that we cannot find perfection in marriage is because each of us is on a continual growth path, and we discover new things about ourselves each day. This is the reason we cannot afford to sleepwalk through our relationship. If we do, we’ll miss some very important clues in determining how to work with and get along with our spouse. The following poem by an anonymous author says it very well:

No Marriage is Perfect

Marriage is a daily creation, not a packaged product.

Marriage is like a child who needs to be picked up and

hugged and given personal attention,

Marriage is not something simple to be weighed against expectations

and rejected when found short.

Marriage needs a delicate touch and patient treatment.

The handling of it cannot always be thought out ahead of time.

Often the way must be felt slowly, gently, in the dark.

The danger is not in the dark.

The danger is in losing hope or patience.

 

If you are struggling in your marriage relationship, check to see if you have forgotten to give it personal attention. Are you holding on to hurts? Are the expectations you have of your mate (or even yourself) unrealistic. Have you laid aside the Word of God and done things in your own strength? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please understand that it’s not too late to make a course correction and get back on track. No one wants a failed marriage; unfortunately, not everyone is willing to do what it takes to triumph beyond the struggle. I challenge you to be the one who will do the hard work and, indeed, discover the joy of a successful, amazing marriage albeit not a perfect one.

17
May
16

Abiding in Peace

Isaiah 30:15, 18 (NLT)

15.This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. 18. So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

In the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah, we find that God is rebuking Judah for its self-reliance and desire to look to Egypt for help. The children of Israel had so long been delivered from Egypt yet still looked back there in times of distress.

Isn’t that what we do? Sometimes, when things aren’t going the way we planned, or we are faced with an abundance of difficulty; we tend to revert back to our old way of thinking, relying on ourselves or others to get us out of trouble instead of remembering where the real solution lies.

Needless to say, marriage is fraught with challenges, giving us many opportunities to make the decision whether to do things our own way or trust that God’s way will always, without question, work best. We are so often tested by our pride and selfishness during struggles because it’s so easy to shift into protection mode. However, when we decide to trust God instead, we find rest because He is fighting our battles for us. Our stress is relieved and we have peace.

As we release our spouses to God, we find that we no longer have to argue our side of things; we can walk in quietness. This quietness is not a cessation of expression or reasoning but rather a sense of calm as you work through issues. You no longer feel the need to go on the attack because you are confident that, “God’s got this!” Instead, you walk in love and remain kind and longsuffering – not easily done in our own strength. Verse 18 tells us that the Lord must wait for us to come to Him so He can show us His love and compassion. God will never force His will on anyone. It’s always by choice. We have to choose His peace, His rest, His love. That is where our real strength lies. We will experience an internal peace that can change the whole atmosphere of our homes.

Abide in peace.

17
May
16

Be a Light Bearer

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The scriptures quoted above are part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus described his followers as the light of the world. Christ came to be the Light of the world and has empowered those who believe in Him and are willing to follow His example to transmit His light through their lives. Jesus has not given us this light to be hidden from the world but has instructed us that its proper place is to be a place of prominence, on a light stand. The purpose of the light was to give guidance to everyone in the house and world, pointing to and prompting praise of our God.

I want to challenge you as God’s light bearer to let your God-inspired deeds shine first in your home, marriage and family. Your family and spouse need to see, hear, and experience the inspiring effect that Christ has upon every area of your life. They need to experience the love, acceptance, and forgiveness that you have received from Christ, flowing from you towards them, unobstructed by the shadow of hidden sins. The light that is in you can dispel the darkness and begin to expose the lies of a world that tries to deny the benefits reaped from embracing the life, love, and light of Christ.

Our homes are to be the practice and proving grounds of the influence of Christ on our personal lives. Our spouse and children should be able to attest to the blessing of having Christ illuminate their home. Let them see you studying God’s Word, praying, being thankful, and full of joy and love. From your example of a love for God’s Word and His people, patience, forgiveness, and pursuit of peace with others, our spouses and families will also be encouraged to receive Christ’s light in their lives. Don’t be afraid to be an example of a Christ-filled life, and commit to boldly explain why you are willing to yield your life to Christ.

Ephesians 5:8 (NLT)

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

Be a light bearer and bring life and light to your home and the world around you.

10
May
16

Who’s Got Your Back?

Psalm 139:5-6 (NKJV) 

You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.

In the scriptures above, the Psalmist was expressing his belief that God had hedged him in. The hedge indicates being surrounded, protected, or limited. Some might even say that he was boxed in. The Psalmist was making this declaration with excitement knowing that the God of the universe was concerned enough about him that He had surrounded and was committed to protect him. He goes on to say that the Lord had laid His hand on him allowing for a personal relationship to be developed. This whole concept and reality of God having his back was knowledge too wonderful to fully grasp or comprehend.

I think many today have the same feelings or inability to fully comprehend the level and extent of God’s love and protection for His people. I believe that when we are able to experience the depth of God’s commitment to us, then we are empowered to share and exercise confidence and security with others. When we understand what God has done for us through His love, we want to share it. I want to encourage you to share this knowledge and exhilaration with your spouse and family each day.

We sometimes are quick to say to one another that we have each other’s back, but can they really feel our hand on their back providing support. The Psalmist had been through some experiences that made him know that God was present and cared. In our marriages, we must make every effort to convey our love and support for each other. This becomes an assignment and opportunity to express the sense and reality of being committed to the success of our spouse-defining success as only being achieved when both of you are pleased and satisfied that your mate is surrounded by your love. There is no greater feeling of love, security and contentment than knowing God’s has your back, but the second best is being secure and assured enough to help your mate experience the commitment of knowing you also have their back, come what may.

Make a commitment to study and get to know God well enough that you have the assurance of Him having your back, and then commit to the daily expression and exercise of that love received from God to your mate and family.