February 2014

A Marriage Made in Heaven

As we consider the husband/wife relationship of Isaac and Rebekah, we are tempted to ask, “How can a relationship begin so beautifully… and end so badly?” (See Genesis 24-25.) Their marriage began as an answer to earnest prayer and God’s sure leading. And you can almost hear swelling music as Rebekah first spotted her husband-to-be from a distance, leaped off her camel, ran to Isaac “and he loved her” (24:67).

We can only wonder, “What happened?” Looking at their beginning of their relationship, we get the sense that Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage was a match made in heaven. The only problem we see is that for the first 20 years, Rebekah was childless. But Isaac pleaded with God for a child, and God responded by granting not one, but two children—twins!

Soon another problem arose that split this loving couple–and their family–in two: Each parent had a favorite child. And each parent plotted, connived, and schemed for their personal favorite to advance over the other.

Their story ends with Rebekah helping her favored son, Jacob, deceive her husband and Jacob’s father into giving Jacob the blessing of the firstborn, rather than to the rightful heir, Esau. The family was torn apart as their son Jacob was forced to leave home and run for his life, and their son Esau rebelled and left home and married a woman from idolatrous neighbors. Such a tragic ending after a thrilling, hopeful beginning!

What can you do to keep your marriage alive and vibrant? First, be on the lookout for problems that can escalate and ruin a marriage. Second, look daily to God for His love. The fire of your love will not sustain your marriage unless that fire is fed, stoked, stirred, and constantly tended.  The more it is fueled by God, the greater its flame. Bless one another in your marriage. Don’t complain that you don’t have time to work on your marriage. Make the time, and you will, by God’s grace, have a marriage made in heaven.

From Jim’s Heart – Lord, Guide Me!

One thousand years before Jesus came to earth, King Solomon gave his understanding of what is needed to receive guidance from God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Solomon said we must choose God’s path and allow Him to guide us. To do this, you must “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Rely totally upon God’s wisdom. God knows what is best for you, your endeavors, and your future. He created you.

To receive God’s guidance, Solomon said, “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” In other words, you are to seek God’s will in all you do. Turn every area of your life over to God and examine your values and priorities to see how they match up with God’s.

When you remember to acknowledge God’s presence and include Him in all that you do, be assured that “He will make your paths straight.” He will guide you into accomplishing His purposes and not your own.

Your Personal Promise

What situation do you face today? Has someone you love fallen sick? Are you concerned about your child’s behavior? Are you holding on to a hurt from the past? Just as Christ’s strength is sufficient for all you endure, it is sufficient to get you through each day.

Not one day goes by that I don’t remind myself of the awesomeness of God and His provisions for me and the ones I love. As His child you can look to Him, His Word, His promises, and His strength, and He will graciously—every time and without fail!—provide what you need for taking one more step along your God-ordained path. Constantly remind yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

How blessed you are to be able to turn to and trust God in every circumstance for every need. Lift up the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 as your personal promise. There is no need to merely cope when you have the Lord!

Finding God’s Will

How do you find and live out God’s will? The steps that follow may seem obvious, but they are God’s sure path to the center of His will.

Begin with God’s Word. Give God’s Word a reigning position in your day, your time, your thoughts, your dreams, your goals, and your heart. At the beginning of each new day, refresh your mind and heart with God’s mind and heart. You may not know God’s will for tomorrow, but as you read and study God’s Word, you have His revealed will for today.

Pray! Never make any decision without prayer. Take your time and pray when making decisions. The bigger the decision, the more time it merits. The more you pray, the more you will be thinking about things as God thinks about them. And the more you think like God, the more you’ll see things as He sees them.

Safeguard by asking for advice. It’s true that as believers we can read the Bible and pray—and still want what we want. By seeking counsel, you get an outside, objective viewpoint. Ask your spouse, pastor, church leader, or mentor—someone who’s wiser, someone you trust.

Factor in your personal life. Ask: “Is this a good use of my time or money or energy?” or “Is this the way God would want me to spend my time, my money, my energy?” Questions like these help you get to the foundational issues beneath the choices you are about to make.

Partners in Faith

A study of Abraham and Sarah, a couple after God’s own heart, paints an extraordinary portrait! No other marriage in the Bible is given as much space. In the 13 chapters that detail their lives up until Sarah’s death, we get a glimpse of the epic tale of their love, their trials, their partnership, and their adventures. In them we see three basic elements needed to build a marriage that lasts.

Foundation. What was the foundation of their marriage—and their lives? There can be no doubt it was faith. Abraham, the husband, was a man of faith, and Sarah, the wife, was a woman of faith. They were God’s perfect combination! They possessed strong individual trust in God, which made them partners in faith.

Blueprint. They followed God’s blueprint for their lives. What God said, they did. Like master builders—whether of an edifice or a marriage—they followed the specs and regulations set down by God. They had faith in Him and in His plans for them.

Tools. What were the tools Abraham and Sarah used to build a marriage worthy to be mentioned in God’s Hall of Faith? First, we see their reliance on and heavy use of the promises of God. (We can only imagine the many discussions Abraham and Sarah had about the fact that they had no heir! And we can also imagine them continually and constantly reminding each other of God’s sure promise.) We also see patience as a tool for trusting and living for God. They waited and waited…and waited for a child.

No matter how tough it gets for you to trust God and wait patiently on Him, like Abraham and Sarah, pull out these words spoken by the Lord, face-to-face with Abraham, when He repeated His promise of a son through Sarah: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)

The answer? No, of course not.

From Jim’s Heart — Live in Love

God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of…love.
2 Timothy 1:7

Paul wrote this message to Timothy to encourage him to refuse to be intimidated and fearful. He reminded Timothy that God had already given him a powerful resource to combat his fear. Love.

And here’s some really super news: God has given all believers His divine love! God’s gift of eternal, inexhaustible, and ever-present love is most comforting. The adversities you face—hardships, persecution, illness, and ultimately death—should not cause you to be fearful or ruin the quality of your life. Why? Because nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Let love be your highest goal. Only a Christian can possess true love—God’s love. It’s a treasure money can’t buy. It’s a treasure the world can’t produce. It’s a treasure that is yours to value and a gift to share with others, starting with your family, and then extending to the family of God and beyond.

What Does Grace Do?

What does God’s grace do besides equip us to get through hard times? What does grace accomplish?

God’s grace saves you. The Bible says we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but praise God! By His grace He offers us salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). God’s grace is poured out on you through Jesus Christ. As one hymn writer expressed it, “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe.”

God’s grace guides you. Paul said, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:10). No matter your background or past or the challenges that stood in you path, God patiently guides you by His grace. God has a plan for you, and He means for you to live it out.

God’s grace empowers you. Whatever you now face or ever will face, you can count on God! You can be content and at peace because God’s grace provides all you need now and forever. The psalmist believed and professed, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me” (Psalm 138:8).

God’s grace is sufficient for you. “Sufficient” is a tremendously comforting word that means ample, enough, adequate. Through God’s grace, you have all you need—salvation, the ability to live for Christ, and the way home to glory.

Coping with Life’s Circumstances

Who do you depend on to get through life? The Apostle Paul, a humble servant and “prisoner” of the Lord, considered himself to be “God-sufficient.” His confidence was securely rooted in the Lord and His sovereign providence over his life. As a man who walked with Jesus, Paul could cope with anything life threw at him.

Lasting encouragement is found in the secret to contentment—knowing Jesus! So why not…

  • Learn as Paul did to endure, complete, cope with, and manage all things through Christ who will give you strength. Christ is in you, and He extends His grace and strength to you.
  • Look to the Lord for His strength. You can trust God to bring you to and through the good plan He has for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Live out your confidence in God and rejoice in your contentment in every situation.
  • Love others by giving and sharing what you have.

No matter what you’re facing, embrace life in trust and contentment based on your faith in Jesus.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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