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WOL Newsletter 136: God's Plan for a Beautiful Relationship- Part 2 March 8, 2015
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TheSeed
Edited by Stacie Thomas

I hate deciding what to do about dinner. I absolutely loathe it. Why? I just get tired of always being the one responsible for the decision and follow through. Just once I’d like my husband (Jim) to decide and do it. Not necessarily cook (nobody wants that), but I dream of him calling me one day (preferably morning- because my dinner apprehension and anxieties start mid-afternoon when my lunch is wearing off) and tell me he’s going to (order a pizza, grill burgers, pick up Mexican…) I really don’t care so long as I don’t have to think about it for once. It’s one of those aggravations that I can let fester into 1) anger (because he never has to be concerned by it- he finishes work and *poof* dinner is served), 2) bitterness (because he never seems to give it a thought beforehand), 3) hurt (because I feel taken for granted and advantage of)… Sounds dumb, doesn’t it? But it’s these things that Satan uses to creep into our heads to destroy our love for our spouse (and ultimately Jesus). It’s the little things that lead to the bigger things. I doubt anyone gets divorced because their spouse didn’t make dinner for them; but divorce does happen over feelings of resentment, hurt, bitterness from ‘irreconcilable differences’. And in our household, dinner is an irreconcilable difference...
Now fast forward to Sunday’s message: I’m to thank my spouse for all the headaches, aggravation, anger, impatience, hurt… he has caused me- because it’s growing my relationship with Jesus? [Oh, okay, Pastor Doug...] I guess I shouldn’t think it a mere ‘coincidence’ that the verse that comes to mind then is “James” 1:2. Because- boy does he cause me trials. But, if I’m being honest, I am not always a big ball of fun [zip it Jim if you’re reading this] for him, either.
But how true was this message?!?! If you’re married, you better be shouting AMEN! Because what better way to learn about yourself than to be stuck with someone that will test your very will to live and keep them alive as well? (Seriously, wedding vows should be ‘awfully’ wedded [spouse]) You know there are times when you don’t want to be around them- maybe it’s your mood, maybe it’s theirs- but regardless, it's those days that you daydream of finishing your days in a monastery (if it’s your mood) or solitary confinement (if it’s theirs).
But when you think about it, what is the big deal? Jesus sacrificed everything; for us (you, me). (And maybe Him not having a spouse was a reward for His sacrifice… [I’m just sayin’]…) But He gave up everything for us to grumble about our spouse’s incredible insensitivity to our needs. Do we consider that maybe they are grumbling about our insensitivity to their needs? (While we worry about us- they worry about them- it’s a vicious cycle).
So, next desire to grumble, take a moment and think- not about what they aren’t doing for you- but about what you aren’t doing for them. See your flaws in their reflection. Close your mouth, and open your heart.
Is it really that big of a deal that I have to plan every meal? He works hard, and much longer hours than I do. He is our provider. I am meeting a literal need he has (feeding him). That in itself should give me joy. Then, when I consider each meal is something I will like (because I don’t cook foods I don’t like)- where can I go wrong? (Oh, yeah- and I'm growing my relationship with God *wink, wink*)
*Poof* Dinner is served.
 

God's Plan for a Beautiful Relationship- Part 2

Seeing selfies has become epidemic. Marriage helps us all get a perfect selfie. Marriage will give you times that your love is tested. These times will make or break your marriage, and reveal where your heart really was all along- focused on your spouse or on you. These times will strengthen your marriage and bring you closer as you work through them, or will drive you apart forever. God gives us specific commands about when a divorce may take place: 1 Corinthians 7:39, Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:12-16: death, adultery, unbelieving spouse leaves. If a believer divorces for a reason other than this: 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. There is no reason that two people filled with real love and forgiveness of Christ can’t make a marriage happy and successful. If they do marry someone else: Luke 16:18- if either gets remarried it is adultery because they are still married in God’s eyes. The third party that marries either of them also commits adultery. In a case of abuse (spousal or child), you should get out of the situation, however you support your spouse until they get help and prove they’ve changed. God is protective of the marriage Covenant: Ephesians 5:31-32: the mystery of marriage refers to Christ and the church. To better understand what marriage means, you must look at the relationship between Jesus and us. This shows us that marriage is important to our health, growth and happiness; our marriages are directly interlinked to and directly reflect our relationships with Jesus Christ. You can’t maintain a proper relationship with Jesus and be unloving in your marriage. Marriages were designed by God to grow and teach us because they are the ultimate long-term, real-life test of whether we can put someone else before ourselves. We are to love our spouse (someone who is often wrong, undeserving and unloving), similar to how Jesus loves us. We often get angry about our marriages and our spouses for doing what God designed them to do in our lives: Hebrews 4:12-13, Proverbs 27:19: marriage acts as the mirror that lets us look at our hearts compared to God’s Word (selfie- we see who we were all along). What governs your heart: pride or love? Your spouse will drown you in their needs, wants, expectations and requests, making you feel unimportant, unfair, insensitive…how you respond to these things will show what is in your heart- love or pride (and it will probably be more apparent to your spouse than to you). The direction of your marriage lies in what rules in your heart: love for your spouse over love for yourself. Then you begin to be the person God is molding you to become; your marriage will flourish; you will have much more happiness in your life. But if you continue to let your selfishness win, then your marriage will fail; you will become something God says He resists (James 4:6); you will be miserable (alone and to others). 1 Peter 3:7. When you choose love, you are not submitting to your spouse, but to God. James 4:6. Philippians 2:3-8: is your role in marriage selfishness and self-serving or of sacrifice? Jesus sacrificed everything for us: agape love. Ephesians 5:25. You marriage can’t be based on what you get from the marriage, but what you give. Your primary reason for marrying is to find someone that you love so much, you want to sacrificially work to make them as happy and cared for as you possibly can (John 3:16). 1 Peter 5:8-9. Satan will help us forget the things we have in common with our spouse, and why we love them; he will remind us our differences and their flaws. He will use the differences to make you feel like there is no reason to hold on any longer. It is in this darkest place of hopelessness in a marriage that Christ’s love for the church is revealed: Romans 5:6-8: we have to choose faith over despair. We have to admit that we don’t have what it takes to hold on and have to rely on His power, Spirit and Love to pull us through. We have to choose that He will work it out, restore love and make things better than ever. We have to resist the accuser and choose to love our spouse rather than isolate ourselves. In those times, it is nothing but Christ in us.

Who are you, really? We all have this view of who we think we are; and this view of who we think others feel we are; and the view of who we really are. Marriage can give us a picture of who that real person is. We often have delusions about ourselves- thinking they’re making God proud, living so well, but if they would stop and look at the selfie of marriage again, and honestly answer about how proud, selfishly and despairingly they treat their own spouse; how they act when around the one they are closest and most comfortable with being themselves in front of; whether they are humble in words, sacrificial in actions... Marriage gives you a person that God says is entirely worthy of your wholehearted love and devotion. 1 John 4:20-21, Ephesians 5:31-32. Reflect on yourself with total honesty and decide who you are, and make a commitment to become who you need to be in your marriage. The choice to change will not only revolutionize our marriage, but it is the key to a better relationship with God.

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