Your Marriage is Not a Hollywood Romance

I’ve been writing a column titled “The Marriage Triangle” for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC). I like to share articles I find about marriage in between publication of The Marriage Triangle articles. This is a good one from The Intentional Life

Your Marriage is Not a Hollywood Romance

It may seem a paradox, but marriage is more important than love. Why? Because marriage is the normal situation out of which true and abiding love arises. The popular notion, championed by fiction and motion pictures, is that love is primary, and marriage is nothing more than a dull anticlimax. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve found that real love hardly exists outside the context of marriage. How could it? Real love is a slow growth coming from unity of life and purpose. Love is a product. It is the thing to be created by mutual service and sacrifice.

Read more here.

Please check out the The Marriage Triangle tab here to read more articles about marriage. BlogSL2-smallest

Perilous Pride

Perilous Pride

By Patricia Knight

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When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).  

In Old Testament times, Naaman was the military commander of the Syrian army, a valiant soldier, highly respected by his associates and enemies alike. Although Naaman’s military career was soaring, he suffered from leprosy, a chronic infectious skin disease characterized by skin sores, pain, and disfigurement. Leprosy alienated victims by defining them as social and religious outcasts.

There were no treatments available for leprosy. Naaman knew he would only respond to a miracle. With his opulent chariots filled to the brim with gold, silver, and elegant clothing, Naaman thought his proud, commanding presence would impress the Israeli prophet and influence his healing with gifts and grandeur. But when Naaman’s entourage pulled up in front of Elisha’s modest dwelling, the prophet didn’t show Naaman the proper hospitality by greeting his visitor. To demonstrate to Naaman that it was God, not man, who healed miraculously, Elisha refused to appear to Naaman, instead sending instructions by his servant. “‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan {River} and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleaned’”(2 Kings 5:10)

The directions were repulsive to Naaman, especially the thought of dipping in the notoriously muddy Jordan River. Furious, Naaman stormed off toward home in a rage at the ludicrous directions. Naaman was a decorated commander in Syria. He had even gained some victories in warfare over Israel, so Naaman naturally expected royal treatment. Naaman’s attitude came through in a blaze of arrogance; of personal entitlement due to his military rank and wealth.

God hates pride, but promotes humility. Pride is defined as excessive self-esteem. Pride is the difference between what you are and what you think you are. —J. Vernon McGee

Man’s pride runs counter with God’s plan. Whenever the two attitudes meet, there is repulsion, similar to the rejection of two like magnetic poles. Pride is a conceited sense of one’s superiority. Naaman defined pride in its best form.

Naaman was beyond human help. There was no cure for leprosy, the dreaded skin disease that created outcasts of its victims and panic in fellow citizens. Only a miracle could save Naaman from shame and disfigurement. Because Naaman was too proud to accept such a simple, but humbling method of healing, he stomped off and headed home.

God was requiring that Naaman reset his priorities. Even though Naaman was desperate for healing, he hadn’t reached the point of complete submission to God and his will. Until Naaman could yield totally to Jesus’ value system, he tightly held onto his self-assuredness. Naaman was willing to conform to Jesus’ ways as long as he could remain in control of the circumstances.

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After Naaman’s traveling servants held a motivational discussion with their master, Naaman hesitantly relinquished his pride. Once he followed instructions to dip seven times in the Jordan River, Naaman was healed. Radiant and with pure skin once again, Naaman stood before Elisha and said, “‘Now I know there is no god in all the world except in Israel’” (2 Kings 5:15).

Humility isn’t a natural response; it seems we must first assume arrogance. Then when pride proves useless and embarrassing, we recall the examples and teachings of Jesus. No one personifies humility more than our Savior. He was born in humble circumstances, lived an unpretentious life, and died on a shameful cross (but arose in glory) as the supreme example of humility.

“God hates pride but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Humility magnifies modesty and meekness, all personality traits of our heavenly Father. Humility is freedom from arrogance or pride; the knowledge that all we have and all we are is a gift from God. By ourselves we are inadequate, without dignity and value. There is never cause to boast of our own accomplishments. Yet because we are created in Christ’s image, we have infinite worth and dignity. True humility does not produce pride but gratitude to the God, who is both our Creator and Redeemer. Our righteousness and existence depend upon Him.

As Naaman learned, no human effort can contribute to our salvation; it is the gift of God through His grace and mercy. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy (Titus 3:4-5). There is no provision for pride in that formula!

Humility is an important component of discipleship. We must humble our will in submission to Jesus, then deny self—realign our desires and impulses to totally trust Jesus’ values.  We are to love, but avoid judging others; to think of others more highly than ourselves, and to realize each of us has much more growth and knowledge to acquire in our Christian walk. We cannot accomplish humility by ourselves, but only in Christ, as we demonstrate lowliness of mind and heart, inspired by the love and grace with which Jesus lavishes us.

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Amazing things occur when we humble our hearts before our merciful Lord. “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). And, that provides us with the instruction for a proper relationship with our Lord.

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Knowing God as Father

Many Christians who love God without reserve struggle with the idea that God loves them infinitely more than that. They cannot grasp the thought of God as their Father—the Father—because of the poor example of their own fathers as they grew up. If their earthly fathers have been absent from their lives or they have suffered physical or sexual abuse from their fathers, the whole concept of “father” is skewed for them. They think of themselves as damaged and unlovable and this leads to difficulties in viewing God the Father as their own “Abba Father” who loves them beyond measure.

In Scripture there are many different names used to describe God. While all the names of God are important in many ways, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names of God in understanding how He relates to people. The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”

Today’s post is a devotional from John MacArthur’s book, Daily Readings from the Life of Christ.

Knowing God as Father

“‘“Our Father who is in heaven . . .”’” (Matthew 6:9).

Only those who have come to God through Christ can call God “Father.” He is the Father of unbelievers only in that He created them (cf. Mal. 2:10; Acts17:28). It is only those who trust Jesus who have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26).

In the Old Testament, faithful Jews saw God as the Father of Israel, the nation He elected as His special people. Isaiah proclaimed, “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (Isa. 63:16b; cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). Many of them even saw God in an intimate way as their spiritual Father and Savior (Pss. 89:26; 103:13).

But because of their disobedience toward God’s commands and their embracing of false gods around them, most Jews of Jesus’ time had lost the true sense of God’s fatherhood and viewed Him as only the remote Deity of their ancestors.

These six words at the beginning of the Disciples’ Prayer reaffirm that God is the Father of all who trust in Him. Jesus Himself used the title “Father” in all His recorded prayers except one (Matt. 27:46). Although the text here uses the more formal Greek pater for Father, Jesus likely used the Aramaic abba when He spoke these words. Abba has a more personal connotation (cf. Mark14:36; Rom. 8:15), equivalent to the English “daddy.”

Because saints belong to Jesus the Son, they can come to God the Father (“Daddy”) as His beloved children.

Ask Yourself

Certainly in our decadent day and age, many are increasingly growing up in homes where “father” is a person to be feared, a person who rejects, a person who demeans and devalues. How does God’s identity as “Father” fill the holes left by even well-meaning dads who fall short of what their role requires?

Please visit John MacArthur’s site, Grace to You.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

1http://www.gotquestions.org/Abba-Father.html

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The Ascendancy Of Evil

If you’re one of the many who are worried and frustrated by the horrid things that are happening in our world lately, you’ll want to read this great commentary by Jack Kelley from the GraceThruFaith blog.

The Ascendancy Of Evil

Commentary by Jack Kelley

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way (2 Thes 2:7).

The number of emails I receive from people who are discouraged, frustrated, even despondent, is steadily increasing. They point to current conditions in the world and wonder how much worse things can get.

You no longer have to be an astute observer to notice how rapidly our world is changing. It wasn’t that long ago when the standard measure was a comparison between what was acceptable to people in their time with what was acceptable in their grandparents’ time. Now we only have to compare what’s currently acceptable with what was acceptable just a few years ago to see measurable change. Not only are things changing, but the rate of change is accelerating.

A person with discernment can’t help but see a supernatural component in all this. It’s true that the heart of man is incurably wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) but these days society seems to be under a compulsion to see just how wicked they can become. All around us we see God’s Laws being conspicuously broken, His word being stifled, and His people, both Jewish and Christian, being persecuted. It’s like it doesn’t matter how twisted something is, as long as it’s a slap in God’s face, it’s bound to catch on.

This obviously couldn’t be happening without man’s active participation, but I’m becoming convinced there’s more to it than a natural progression of things. I think there’s growing evidence of a malevolent power accelerating this and to me that means the time during which the restrainer holds back the secret power of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:7) is rapidly drawing to a close.

Read the rest here.

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Reboot:Life, ‘Just A Thought’, Ep. 13

Anna Popescu:

Great post!

Originally posted on The Joshua Generation Ministries:


© 2015 The Joshua Generation Ministries. All rights reserved.
Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited,
except with the written consent of The Joshua Generation Ministries.

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Memorial Markers

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Now this day will be a memorial to you,
and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD;
throughout your generations you are
to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
 

—Exodus 12:14

Two years ago today, I enjoyed a day completely free of pain. Days like this are so unusual that I make sure to remember them by setting a memorial/memory marker for each of these times.

I’ve written about memory markers before. These are referred to in the Old Testament as memorials. God encouraged His people to pile up some stones in the places of special blessing as a memorial for them to remember things He had taught them and didn’t want them to forget.

The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial (v. 7) is “to remember.” Given man’s propensity to forget it is little wonder then that memorials have frequently played an important role in biblical history. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses built an altar of stones to commemorate God’s covenant with Israel (Ex. 12:14) . Now in today’s text we see God command his people to erect a memorial.1

I have my own version of these memorial markers to commemorate certain days or events I don’t want to forget by adding them to my cell phone calendar and setting alerts.

It is so easy to get caught up in the cycle of pain, thinking that’s all there is in my life. However, God gives me special days and occasions to remind me that He is always with me and will never let me go. So I cling to these memorial markers during the ongoing days of chronic illness when it often seems I will never climb out of the pit.

What this has done in my life has been remarkable. It used to be that I would mentally cry “I don’t understand!” But now, even though I still don’t understand (because I’m not God), I find myself telling Him, “I don’t get it, but I trust that You know what You’re doing and that’s good enough for me.”

You see, God has shown me that He wants me to remember that I can always count on Him. So on each of my pain-free occasions, I have made a new memorial marker on my phone calendar so I can recall the day (or event) and the outcome when I need encouragement.

Beloved, I want to encourage you today if you’re going through a tough time. It is so easy to be thankful when things are going well but understandably much harder to have thankful thoughts when everything seems to be falling apart.

I know what I’m talking about here.

I once read a devotional that confirms what I have long suspected. We were encouraged to store up the memories of precious times when we felt God blessing us with something special, and slide those memories out during the tough times.

In other words, remember the good during the not-so-good.

Here is the crucial part of trusting God: each time I choose to trust God during a particularly puzzling and/or frustrating situation, He demonstrates His faithfulness to me. Sometimes that means He answers a particular prayer in a particular way. Other times He fills me with the overwhelming sense that I can absolutely trust Him while He works behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like He is hearing me. This is where faith comes in.

During one of the toughest times in my life, God pointed me to Isaiah 26:3 and I cling to it to this day:

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“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Beloved, how about you? Do you do anything to remember those sweet, special times where you can see the Lord at work? And if so, share how you commemorate those times in the comments below. 

1“Building Memorials to Remember God” from Sermons.Logos.com 

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What is Truth? [Reblogged from CMI]

Have you heard about The Truth Project by Focus on the Family? Yesterday CMI (Cataclysm Missions Intl) posted this important video titled The Truth Project – What is Truth?

Here is an excerpt from The Truth Project site:

What is Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project®?

In a recent study, the Barna Research Group revealed a stunning statistic that continues to reverberate throughout the evangelical world. Only 9 percent of professing Christians have a biblical worldview.1

Because of this, today’s believers live very similarly to non-believers. A personal sense of significance is rarely experienced, we spend our money and time on things that fail to satisfy and we begin to wonder what life’s ultimate purpose really is. We are, in short, losing our bearings as a people and a nation.

To counter this slide within the body of Christ, Focus on the Family has launched one of the most ambitious and powerful projects in the history of our ministry – The Truth Project.

Read more here. 

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How to be Content, Part 2

Contentment is difficult to attain and maintain when we’re going through some very tough times. Here’s another great piece about contentment, from David Jeremiah’s Turning Points daily devotional magazine. Please visit Dr. Jeremiah’s site to find more wonderful articles.

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Popular Verses

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds.

—Philippians 4:6-7

Recommended Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

What’s the most popular verse in the Bible? Last fall, the retailer Amazon released a list of the most popular passages from its most popular books, and the most commonly highlighted portion of the Bible was Philippians 4:6-7. Readers of e-Bibles underlined that passage more often than any other in Scripture.

When we look around at our anxious world and our fretful lives, we can understand why people are drawn to the promises of Philippians 4. But notice the context of the passage. The Lord tells us here to rejoice in Him (verse 4); to be gentle in our dealings with others (verse 5a); to remember how near He is to us (verse 5b); to pray earnestly about our concerns (verse 6a); to count our blessings with thankfulness (verse 6b); and to focus our minds on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (verse 8).

What a wonderful description of the life of faith! When we trust the Lord like this, we don’t have to fret about the small details of life. We can rely on God with issues both big and small.

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. —Corrie ten Boom

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Judges 1-3

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How to Be Content

Have you wondered how it is possible to be content in this chaotic, sin-sick world? This is a wonderful piece by Sam Storms. Please visit his Enjoying God blog to read more great articles.

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The Secret of Spiritual Contentment

By Sam Storms

What could the Apostle Paul possibly mean when he says that he has “learned” to be “content” in whatever circumstance or situation he’s in? Here is what he writes:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13).

Key verse from this article:

The issue for us all is resting and rejoicing in Jesus to such an extent that neither poverty nor prosperity has any affect on us, whether for good or ill.

Read the rest here.

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