Marriage for Worse, for Poorer, and in Sickness

This is an excellent article from UnlockingTheBible.org.

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer,
and in Sickness

By Sarah Walton

I remember the moment I stood before my groom and recited my wedding vows. I certainly didn’t expect life to be perfect, but I assumed my marriage would be filled with more of “better” than “worse.”

With stars in my eyes, and blissfully unaware of what the future would hold, I confidently vowed, “I take you, Jeff, to be my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.”

That was almost 13 years ago.

Trials Can Test Your Marriage Vows

Little did I know those thirteen years would hold chronic illness, financial loss, special needs, suffering children, marital strain, and overwhelming stress. I never imagined that I’d experience so much of the “worse, poorer, and in sickness” part of our vows.

I’m grateful as I reflect on the unexpected trials that have tested our marriage. In God’s goodness, the “worse” parts of our marriage have ushered in a deeper, Christ-centered experience of the “better.” This hasn’t come without the pain of loss and failure; yet Christ has used it to mature us in him, change our character, and increase our love for each other.

This, of course, is only possible with and through Christ. While God can certainly change the heart of a non-believing spouse and use the pain of unbelief to draw both spouses to himself, the following truths reflect a husband and wife who’ve put their faith in Christ and desire to follow him. If you’re married to an unbelieving spouse, I pray God will use the trials to draw them to a saving faith in Christ.

Read the rest here.

Perfection and Deception

God placed Adam and Eve in a luxurious garden He planted in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. The Garden of Eden was self-supporting; fruit-bearing trees were abundant, four rivers ran through it, and nourishing plants yielded plentiful food. Rain never fell; irrigation occurred by gentle mists rising out of the ground. No pests invaded green growth; everything was pristine and pure. Such exquisite beauty and flourishing abundance would overwhelm us with its magnificence, but to the first inhabitants, it was simply home, the only residence they had ever known.

The people who walked in the exquisite environment of the garden, who bathed in the clear, cool rivers, and who communicated constantly with their Creator, enjoyed freedom and protection in the fertile, life-sustaining garden. There were no flaws in their lives or surroundings. They were created in an untarnished, sin-free world.

Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1). Satan questioned Eve about God’s authenticity and the accuracy of His specific directions regarding the one tree from which they were instructed they should not eat. Satan was baiting Eve. She informed him of what he already knew: God told them they must not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden or they would die (Genesis 3:2-3).

Satan temped Eve to gaze at the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The fruit may have suddenly acquired a tantalizing appeal to Eve. Neither person had been previously exposed to the tree, for it was forbidden to them. If any of us devote time where we do not belong, view or read that which is harmful, we too, begin to see beauty or advantage in the detrimental. We often defend our thoughts and actions by the world’s standard: the end justifies the means. God’s principles are defended by Jesus’ criteria: “Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

Though temptation constantly swirls about, God commands us to watch and pray, to show discernment with our choices, and to use Jesus as our standard. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1). For a moment Adam and Eve were overcome with opportunity and greed. Greed is not need; rather, it expresses selfish longing.

During Jesus’ forty-day temptation in the wilderness, the devil offered Him the opportunity to circumvent His original purpose for coming to earth in exchange for food, material riches, and power (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan’s ultimate goal was to convince Jesus to bow down to worship him instead of His heavenly Father, offering Jesus immediate gratification with physical, psychological, and spiritual rewards, tempting Him to by-pass death for mankind on the cross. Jesus is sinless, with characteristics of purity and holiness, so He couldn’t yield to Satan’s wily ways. Jesus refused all of Satan’s clever tricks, quoting Old Testament Scripture as a retort to each of Satan’s enticements.

It was imperative for Christ to experience temptation as a man to know how we feel, the amount of courage needed to resist, and the necessity of claiming God’s power to send Satan away in utter defeat. Jesus was tested during His weakest physical state of hunger and sleeplessness to prove that we serve a sinless Savior on whom we can depend when we are seduced by Satan and his cohorts. Jesus’ trials covered the entire spectrum of human temptations as He experienced personally the devastating damage Satan’s demonic powers wield over humanity. Now Jesus’ victory is the ideal example for all believers to follow. Human effort is inadequate, but God’s power is invincible.

Because Christ was successful in rejecting the temptation of the devil by immersing Himself in prayer, His example instructs us to become so familiar and intimate with our Lord that when we are enticed by demons, our reaction is to Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:7-8, NASB). God then acts as our barrier for the destructive influence of Satan. Jesus is the pure, holy Son of God who teaches us by example that men live “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3b).

We are privileged that God desires to communicate and fellowship with us! The Word of God and prayer are powerful deterrents for evil. Ask “God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way (Colossians 1:9-10a). Praying throughout each day prepares us with strength to resist temptation, answers to repeal Satan’s charm, and wisdom to claim God’s strength as our own. With such protection, we possess the ability to recognize and resist the demons who aim to separate us from God.

The professional tempter is intimately familiar with the tools of his deceptive trade. Demons major in confusion and chaos. As Christians, our emphasis is shining Christ’s light into darkness to reveal the tempter at his schemes. “For he {God} has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). As we saturate our lives with prayer, we give glory to the Light of the World.

While Jesus prayed alone in Gethsemane prior to His crucifixion, He commanded His sleepy disciples to remain on guard with Him against evil forces. “ ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak’ ” (Matthew 26:41). Because Jesus was tempted as we are and resisted, He is now our advocate in heaven, pleading continually to the Father for our benefit.

Christians are engaged in spiritual battles against Satan and his demons, but God has not left us defenseless. Our most dangerous enemies in this world are invisible, not to be fought with brute force, but with the unique spiritual equipment which God supplies: truth, faith, peace, and righteousness (Ephesians 6:4-16). Jesus, who crushed Satan on the cross, has provided us with prayer, our greatest military arsenal for life’s battles.

Though our trials are often intense, we are endowed with the spiritual weapons God designed. Be prepared with a life of determined conflict through prayer and knowledge of Scripture, equipped to deflect Satan’s fiery arrows, just as Jesus did.

My #Glory

My Glory

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me;
my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
—Psalm 3:3

That God is “glory”—or “excellence”—beyond our understanding, none can deny. But do our hearts look up to Him today in humble, earnest worship, and know the truth, and speak the truth—”Thou are MY GLORY“? Our safety lies in the fact that He possesses us. Our deepest, holiest joy comes only when we humbly say in the hour of secret worship: “Thou art mine.” Oh, Lord my Glory, be Thou my shield this day. Amen.

The Lifter Up of Mine Head

Oh, Thou who hast given
Thy glory to me,

Anoint my blind eyes

Till Thy glory I see.

Lift up my bowed head,

Be my shield and my light,
Till Thy radiant glory
Shall banish my night.

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, O LORD,
make we dwell in safety.
—Psalm 4:8

According to Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Psalm 3 has been called a “morning psalm:” in other words, a good psalm with which to start the day.

He calls Psalm 4 “an evening prayer.”

I love the way Dr. McGee puts it: “In spite of all the problems and troubles that David had, he trusted in the Lord. He could sleep at night … He simply trusted in the Lord, pillowed his head on the promises of God, and went to sleep.”¹

Imagine! David “pillowed his head on the promises of God, and went to sleep”! I love the visual imagery this conjures up.

A good night’s sleep is something our bodies need in order to regenerate and get ready for the next day. But for many of us, sleep problems dominate our lives. When we don’t get the refreshing and restoring deep sleep we need, we suffer the physical, psychological and emotional effects throughout the next day, and often beyond.

I’ve always been a very light sleeper. I will fall asleep almost immediately, but then wake up at the least bit of sound. After years of sleepless nights, I’ve learned to wear ear plugs. These do a great job of muffling the harsh sounds that jar me awake.  Certain sounds slip through anyway every so often, like the barking of neighbors’ dogs or the annoying beeps of a smoke detector that needs new batteries.

As I begin to fall asleep, there is usually a hymn going through my mind, one of several that I’ve somehow remembered from listening to Scripture songs over the years. I drift off while praising the Lord in my mind and heart and this, plus the silence that surrounds me, usually puts me right to sleep. And I notice that when I wake up during the night to change positions, that same song is still running through my mind.

But then there are the nights when I can’t sleep, no matter what I do or think about. That’s when I need to remind myself—like David did—to pillow my head on the promises of God, letting thoughts of anything else work their way out of my mind. I need to relax and allow Him to comfort and soothe me through any negative or unsettling thoughts, which only work against my desire and need for sleep.

Beloved, no matter how much or how little sleep we get, one thing should be a constant source of comfort to us: that the Lord is always with us while we sleep, keeping us safe in His care. And no matter if our night is sleepless or not, we can still rejoice in each new day and take comfort from the knowledge that the Lord is:

  • OUR SHIELD
  • OUR GLORY
  • THE LIFTER OF OUR HEADS

Now that’s something worth counting on!


¹Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Copyright © 1982 by Thru the Bible Radio.

8 Ways God Works Suffering for Our Good

This is an excellent article from Challies.com, published a couple of months ago but something I needed to read right now.

8 Ways God Works Suffering
for Our Good

By Tim Challies

It is a conviction meant to quiet our minds and encourage our hearts: In some way God has a hand in our suffering. Whatever circumstances we experience can no more arise without the hand of God than a saw can cut without the hand of the carpenter. Job in his suffering did not say, “The Lord gave and the devil took away,” but, “The Lord gave and the Lord took away.” Suffering never comes our way apart from the purpose and providence of God and for that reason, suffering is always significant, never meaningless. Here are some ways that God brings good from our suffering.

Suffering is our preacher and teacher. It was Luther who said that he could never properly understand some of the Psalms until he endured suffering. A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon, and suffering first teaches us about our sin and sinfulness. Suffering also teaches us about ourselves, for in times of health and prosperity all seems to be well and we are both humble and grateful, but in suffering we come to see the ingratitude and rebellion of our hearts. We can best see the ugly face of sin and the reality of spiritual childishness in the mirror of suffering.

Read the rest here.

Pearl of Great Price

Pearl of Great Price

by Joni Eareckson Tada

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value,
he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45-46

One day my father-in-law, Dad Tada, presented me with a family heirloom, a string of genuine pearls.  He told me they had been harvested in Japan, not far from where he lived much of his life.  I was captivated by the milky, soft glow of each perfect pearl.  Ken draped the pearls around my neck, and I wheeled to a mirror.

As I admired them, Dad Tada explained how a pearl is produced.  A tiny bit of sand lodges in the flesh of an oyster and becomes an irritating intrusion.  Unable to expel it, the oyster covers the particle with layer after layer of a milky secretion until the irritation has become smooth, round, and acceptable.  It also, inadvertently, becomes a precious gem.

A pastor once wrote, “Pearls, unlike other jewels, are drawn from the animate creation.  (Other jewels are made from rocks and crystals and are mined out of the earth…)  Pearls are produced by life — a life which has overcome the working of death.”

Jesus, the Pearl of Great Price, is unlike any other.  He is the precious gem set apart from the rest.  He lived in such a way that He overcame the working of death.  He is superior because His love poured forth from a life wounded by pain.  He has become our example.  We experience irritants in our lives, but God gives layer after layer of grace until the irritation becomes smooth and acceptable.  What was an intrusion becomes a precious gem for all to admire… and for God to receive glory.

Pull your string of pearls (imitation or not) from your jewelry box and hang them over the mirror above your dresser for a few days.  They will brighten your bedroom and your appreciation for Jesus, the One and Only Pearl.

My wounded Savior, teach me through Your example to let intrusions in my life become pearls.  Remind me how You transform pain into beauty.

Joni and Friends


Copyright © 1998. More Precious Than Silver, Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

#JOYFUL in #HOPE

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
—Romans 12:9-13