No one has ever decided to one day run a marathon and then just go out and do it! It takes months of daily work and training to be able to finish 26.2 miles. Just as no one ever woke up and decided they wanted their marriage to be better and poof, it was better. Marriage takes work, it takes daily commitment. It is the little things we do on a daily basis that can bring about the change we want in our marriage. Love is work, it is a decision we make to love someone. Love is an action, not a feeling. Here are 5 things needed on a daily basis in marriage. If done consistently they can transform your marriage.
1. Pray for your spouse daily.
Pray for their well being and protection. Thank God for them and see them as a gift from Him. Pray that God will bless them and give them what they need. Pray for their struggles and weaknesses. Pray that they will find God’s purpose for their lives and fulfill that purpose. When you begin to pray for your spouse this way, you will begin to see them though God’s eyes and you will become a better listener, more attentive to their needs and struggles.
2. Always assume the best about your spouse.
What I mean by that is don’t assume the worst in them. If they say something that could be interpreted in a good way or neutral or bad way, always assume they meant it in a good way. Don’t assume you know what is going on in their head. Try to see things from their perspective. Remember that your spouse is not perfect and by the way, neither are you! They have good and bad days and struggles just as we all do. Take the high road!
3. Use your words to build up, not tear down.
Words are powerful. What we say can create an atmosphere of love and respect and security or they can create hostility, anger and hurt. Think of something positive and encouraging to say to your spouse everyday. Let them know what a good parent they are to your kids. Tell your husband how much you appreciate the work he does to provide for the family. Find the good in your spouse and speak it. Men, when was the last time you told your wife she was pretty? If you can’t remember, it has been too long. I tell guys all the time, “You can tell my wife she is pretty, it will not mean anything to her because I have already told her today!” Never put your spouse down in front of others. If you have an issue, discuss it in private. Remember, words are powerful and will either build up or tear down your marriage!
4. Find something to do for your spouse.
Ask yourself the question each day, “What can I do today for my spouse that shows them I love them?” Then do it. It may be as simple as emptying the dishwasher, washing the car, or cleaning out the garage. It could be a hug. Learn what your spouse’s love language is and speak that language through your actions. There is a great book by Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages that will help you discover their language (and yours).
5. Spend quality time with your spouse.
We live in a fast paced world. We are always busy. We want things now, but you cannot microwave a marriage. In most homes, both spouses have a career to juggle along with kids and all the activities they have. It is easy to spend all our time running around and lose sight of our marriage relationship. We want our kids to have all the experiences we didn’t, but what is more important than experiences is relationships. Have dinner together as a family, with no TV on and no cell phones. Take your wife out on a date. Have a conversation without the distractions of the world. If you don’t make it a priority, it will not happen. Set aside daily time to talk to your spouse.
It is the little daily things we do in our marriage that bring the biggest results. Just as a marathon runner trains daily in order to complete a race. Marriage is a marathon and we must put in the work and time each and every day. This does not mean you will never have struggles or hard times, but if you have invested everyday in your marriage with these things, when the storm comes, you will be able to withstand it and even grow through it. Wake up each day and choose to love your spouse no matter how you feel. Choose love!
What does a Christian look like? Depending on who you ask, you might get any number of answers. Hollywood has their own version of what Christians look like. The media usually portrays Christians as unloving, judgmental people. The term “Christian” is actually never defined in the Bible. It was given to disciples of Jesus Christ by those outside the church (Acts 11:26). The New Testament is clear what a disciple or Christian looks like. Here are 5 attributes every Christian should have:
1. A person of faith.
Faith is believing in something you cannot see. Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” NKJV. Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of our Christianity. It is what accesses the grace of God in our lives (Romans 5:1-2). Our salvation and the forgiveness of sins is completely based upon our faith in Him. It is not about how good we are or whether or not we can live up to a certain standard. Being a disciple of Jesus is about a relationship with Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). After we are saved, we are to continue to live in faith (Colossians 2:6). For some reason many people believe in being saved by faith, but after that they believe their walk with God is based on their works. The truth is, we are to walk by faith. Our relationship with God is only based on our faith and the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. When a person places their faith in Jesus there is a great exchange. God takes our sins and gives us the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). We are complete in Jesus (Colossians 2:!0).
2. A person of love.
Jesus said to His followers in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NKJV. This is what defines us. Our lives ought to be characterized by love for others. It is how we treat our spouse, children, family and friends, and the stranger we meet. This love is an action. It is not empty words. When we study the life of Jesus and see how he loved others, we see him feeding them, praying for them, healing the sick, teaching, forgiving, etc. Every Christian’s life should be a life of love and compassion toward others.
3. A person of humility.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6, NKJV. Every believer in Christ should have a humble heart because the truth is, we are no better than any other person in the world. The only difference is we have been given God’s grace. This grace is offered to everyone and can be received by faith. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness (Romans 3:23). Every person in this world no matter how rich or poor, no matter the skin color or country of origin, good or bad; all are made in the image of God and loved by God (John 3:16). We must see ourselves and others as God does.
4. A non-judgmental person.
It is easy to point out sin. It is hard to get involved in peoples’ lives so you can introduce them to the One that has the answer for their sin. Paul writes in I Corinthians 5:12-13, “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges…” NKJV. It is not our job to go around judging the sins of the world. Our job is to love them and introduce them to the Savior. Our response ought to be the same as Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery. He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11, NKJV. Jesus was the perfect blend of grace and truth (John 1:14). We are to also be full of grace and truth. Truth calls sin what it is, grace does not condemn. Some are full of truth but have little grace, and become judgmental. Why do we focus on one particular sin and overlook another? Why are we so quick to point out the sins of others and slow to point out our own “mistakes”. Others are full of grace with little truth and refuse to call sin what it is. Grace and truth go together. God is the judge of this world, we are not to judge the world!
5. A person of hope.
Every believer should be living with the hope of eternal life. We have a hope that this life is not the end and when we lose a loved one, we will see them again (I Thessalonians 4:13). “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil.” Hebrews 6:19, NKJV. Jesus Christ is that anchor that will never be broken, “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” II Timothy 1:12.
We cannot change anyone. Only God can do that. We are to love others and introduce them to the One who can forgive their sins and give them a new life, just as we have been forgiven and given a new life. Being a Christian is about having a relationship with the One who died for our sins, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever said that about your life? Come on be honest! Maybe you are thinking that very thing at this moment and sure don’t need me to remind you. What is it in us that seeks, that never seems to be content? We continue to dream, to wonder about what life would be like if something were different. If we had a different job, different income, different set of skills, different spouse? We could go on and on. You know, the grass is always greener on the other side. We continue to compare our lives to those around us thinking that they are so lucky, so blessed. “Why can’t I be so lucky?” Not realizing they are just as discontent as we are. They are just caught in the same rat race. We are putting on that facade in front of others because Lord knows we don’t want anyone to actually know this about us. Then, our lives are spent not in the moment, not enjoying what we do have and realizing how blessed we truly are, but always being discontented, always wishing for more, for different, something else. That is not to say there are not moments or even seasons of “happiness”, but overall are we really happy? That brings to mind the questions, “where do we find happiness and contentment?” and “where are we looking for these things?”
I have come to learn that happiness does not come from things. Remember as a child, or if you have children, how happy and excited they are on Christmas morning with the toy they have longed for for weeks, even months, and sometimes not even 24 hours later that “special” toy is in the corner. They are on to something else. Or remember when you thought you had to have that _________. Then, you finally got it, but after the new wore off you were back to where you were before, looking for the next “thing”.
Happiness doesn’t come from people. Sure, the people in our lives can either bring us joy and enrich our lives or they can bring us heartache and hurt our lives, but ultimately people do not fulfill the void, the emptiness so many of us experience. The reason is that people are imperfect. We make mistakes, let others down. We don’t always do what we say we will do. Sometimes we smell bad. Sometimes we are grumpy. Sometimes we straight up do something to hurt others. Our happiness will not be found in the people around us.
Happiness is not found in our jobs. Jobs come and go, bosses can be good or bad.
We could go on and on. So where does that leave us? Depressed? Maybe you are making a mental note to stop reading anything I write! But that is not the end of it.
I am sure we all know that person who is so happy. They may not have much or have what we think is needed to be happy, but they are content, a joy to be around. No matter their circumstances, they exude happiness. Where does that happiness come from? Is there more to life? Is there fulfillment to be had? And where in the world did they find it? We have to look in the right place.
The truth is, happiness comes from One Person! It is said of this Person that “in Him is life, and the life is the light of men.” It says that this Man is “full of grace and truth”. It is said of this Man that he came to take away my sins and the sins of the world! Wow! Someone who can take away what is wrong with me, the things that I try to hide from those around me. The things I am ashamed of and want to change! It even says we receive “grace for grace”! That is favor that I do not deserve! I am afraid we throw that word around not realizing its full impact! Grace is not getting what I deserve and in return getting favor and blessings that I DO NOT deserve! Here is the problem. Many have a misunderstanding of this Man. We think that following him and becoming a Christian is no more than choosing Christianity over the other religions. We think that they all have their lists of right and wrong, or rules, and when we choose Christianity that just means we follow those rules found in the Bible. If we chose Buddhism, then we would follow the rules of the Buddha.
Let me be clear. Being a Christian is not about following a set of rules or guidelines. It is about a relationship with Jesus Christ. The One who came to take away all that is wrong with us. It is about faith in Him. It is about learning who we are, where we came from and who we are in Him. It is said of Jesus’ followers that they “are complete in Him”. You see, we find our happiness, joy, contentment, and purpose in Him. Jesus loves you and He wants to fill that void in your heart. He wants to fill that emptiness you have with His joy, contentment, and peace. He died on the cross so that all who believe in Him will receive the forgiveness of sin and eternal life. What happens when we believe in Him is the great exchange! He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness! The more we realize this and learn about it, the more peace and joy and contentment we find!
Several years ago my wife and I lived in small town rural Arkansas at the first church I pastored. Our oldest son, Josh, was about 3 and one Wednesday night as our Bible study ended I was sitting in my office just off the front door. To the left was a short hallway that had the ladies restroom in it and at the end the one room nursery. As the last few people were leaving I saw out of the corner of my eye Josh go down the hallway, no doubt to play in the nursery. About five minutes later having finished a few last minute things, I got up to leave. I immediately went down the short hallway to get Josh, only he was not there. I then looked in the ladies restroom and again, no Josh. As I came back up the hallway I asked my wife if she had seen him, she too had been looking for him. My heart rate immediately went up and a feeling of dread and worry came over me. Both of us began looking in each room in the building, calling out his name. After searching every corner I hit the front door at a dead run. The church was situated way too close to a state highway where cars sped by well in excess of the posted 55 MPH speed limit. I ran around the entire building frantically calling his name; again, no Josh. As I came running back into the building with tears in my eyes reaching for the phone to call 911something told me to look one more time in that ladies restroom. This time as I opened the door, I looked behind it and there stood my son with the biggest smile on his face, no doubt in his mind thinking he was doing so well at his impromptu game of hide and seek! I swept him up in my arms as a rush of emotions ran across me. Joy! Relief! There was no way I could be mad. My son who was lost, was found!
Do you think that is how God feels when one of His is found? I do. If you read the scriptures you will see in Luke 15 Jesus talking about the heart of God toward sinners. He first appeals to all the men in the crowd by saying, “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?” And all the men nodded in agreement. But then he says something unexpected in verse 7, “I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…” Here Jesus uses the same word “sinner” that was used in verse 1 when he was accused of hanging out with “sinners”. He then appeals to all the women in the crowd by saying, “Or what woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?” And all the women nod in agreement. By the way, this was not what we think. She did not just lose pocket change. The silver coin was one of ten that made up the wedding necklace. It was of great value to her. You could say, “Or what woman who loses her wedding ring…” I have heard of walls being ripped out and plumbing cut to find a wedding ring! Then again Jesus finishes with the joy in heaven when one sinner repents.
And in case we still don’t get it, He says, “A man had two sons…” What a story! The younger wanted his inheritance and wanted it now. He left the father’s house, wasted all of it, found himself destitute (this is where we all are without God) and finally comes to himself and realizes that his father treats his servants better than he has it. So he goes home, all the while rehearsing his speech. (What father in their right mind would forgive and restore any son who did what he did.) He would only ask to become a servant. But wait!!! As he is still a ways from home his father sees him, runs to him, embraces him and immediately restores his found son. He then throws a party. No lecture, no “I told you so”, no conditions!! Just restoration and forgiveness.
That is God’s heart! That is grace! And it is offered freely through faith in Jesus!!!
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 HCSB