From Our Hearts to Yours
When something terrible happens in your life, are you ever tempted to ask, “What good could come out of this?” It looks like a disaster. It feels like a disaster. Therefore, we quickly conclude, it is a disaster!”
Comfort in the Chaos
Corrie ten Boom, a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and a woman who desperately needed hope every minute of every day, made this statement: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” We often need this reminder … as did the Israelites when they were taken captive for 70 years.
To them, it may have appeared that God was finished with them. After all, He had allowed their country to be destroyed and them to be sent into exile. This must have looked like a disaster! What good, they may have wondered, could come out of this?
God Won’t Forget You
But God did not forget His people who were suffering in Babylon. And, my friend, He won’t forget you! God had a beautiful plan to turn His people into a beautiful new people with a beautiful new purpose. He is the author of history—including your history. You are part of His grand plan—‘“I know the plan that I have for you,’ declare the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11). And because He knows the future, and has designed your personal agenda, and is present with you, you can have boundless hope.
Put God’s Powerful Promise to Work
- Recall … God’s promises of hope when you are discouraged.
- Review … God’s words of hope.
- Resist … the temptation to give into hopelessness.
- Rely … on the God of hope and trust Him.
- Rejoice … and thank God that you are the recipient of His hope.
And lastly, remember that no matter how bad things become, God has a good plan and He will be with you in every hour you’re in need.
Dear Lord, thank You that I can grab hold of Your hope, and use it to fight against defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Amen.
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“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I’ll recount God’s goodness in my life and the lives of those I love by making a list of His faithfulness.
The mind is an amazing thing. It can carry on thousands of functions at the same time. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s not so good. For instance, when you check your phone while your parent is talking to you … that’s bad! There you are, right in front of them, and yet you’re thinking about something totally different.
What’s even more amazing than the mind’s capacity to wander is that your mom can tell when you’re not listening. How do they do that?! We think we’re clever. We nod at what we think is the right moment … yet they still catch us checking our phone.
Why is it so hard for us to focus? Here are just a few reasons. One is that we’re bombarded with entertainment, things, stuff. Phones have 100 different apps, games, and texting. Another is busyness. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against being busy. But we have to make time for others between extracurricular activities, practices, and hobbies.
When you’re with your family or hanging out with friends, the loving thing to do is be all there, both mentally and physically. This will take some concentration and effort on your part. But we’ll follow God’s Word—“Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10)—when we train ourselves to ignore Instagram (at least for our conversations with others) and devote our full attention on others when we’re with them.
Dear Lord, please help me put real energy toward giving my full attention to the people I’m with. I want to honor them. Amen.
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“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)
How often do I check my phone when I’m in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with my family or friends? Is this honoring the person I’m speaking with?
Have you ever found yourself backtracking after saying or posting a not-so-sweet comment? “It was a joke! I didn’t really mean she’s ugly. She’s just way too sensitive.”
You’ve heard it said that, “You cannot give away what you do not possess.” And, the Bible tells us that the words that we give away should be seasoned with grace and acceptable in God’s sight (Colossians 4:6, Psalm 19:14). After learning of these commands from God, I considered that the best words I could give away would be His words. But, I’d have to know them before I could offer His truth to others.
Giving It A Go
At this time I fretted, “I can’t memorize Scripture! It’s too hard.” Then I visited a friend’s home whose pet parrot sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” in its entirety. As I stood there amazed, I thought, “Well, if a parrot can learn ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ I can learn to memorize Scripture!”
Each of us can develop a way of remembering significant verses from God’s Word. When we’ll do this, it’ll positively impact how we think and speak.
Going From Critical to Caring
You see, our actions and words reveal our attitude. Proverbs 23:7 says that what we think in our heart, we are. Critical thoughts not only go against God’s Word, but they create actions and produce words that are oftentimes mean and harmful. That’s why it’s important to train ourselves to think loving, positive thoughts when it comes to other people. And this can be done when we meditate on Scripture.
Proverbs 31 describes a woman who opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness. We gain the wisdom and knowledge to be like this woman from God’s Word. Let’s choose to fill our mind most often with Scripture so that our speech is gracious and wise!
Dear Lord, help me purposefully fill my mind with knowledge from Your Word. I want my words to nurture others with grace and wisdom. Amen.
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“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
Are my words nurturing and loving toward others? Am I thinking, speaking, and acting toward them as Christ would?
For almost the first decade of our marriage, Jim and I were lost and confused—and miserable! We had little or no peace in our home. Arguments abounded. One thing led to another until we each were going our own way. Jim was consumed with his job. I was attending classes and obtaining a license in marriage and family counseling. (Can you hear me laughing? I think I hear you laughing!)
Entertaining Thoughts of Divorce
We each entertained thoughts of divorce. We were the proverbial flailing couple who was going down…and taking two young daughters with us. Why? Well, many reasons factored in, but a big one was that our love needed redirection. In the world of physics, matter is never lost—it simply changes its state. Love is like matter; it isn’t lost, it’s only redirected.
We see this with Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage in the Old Testament. Isaac’s love was directed full-on toward his wife Rebekah for the first 20 years of their marriage. But somehow it got redirected. After their twins Jacob and Esau arrived and the newness of having children wore off, their affections went from adoration…to adjusting to an expanded family…to choosing sides against one another.
Endangering Your Marriage
Children are a gift from God, but child-centered parenting endangers your marriage and family (as does being job-centered, parent-centered, hobby-centered). Isaac redirected his love onto his favorite son, Esau, while Rebekah showered her love on Jacob. Somewhere in the rough seas of marriage, this couple drifted apart.
This may be a tender topic for you. If your love has drifted … there is hope.
Engaging Your Spouse
Spend time in prayer, assessing upon whom or what you’ve redirected your love. Take a close look at your marriage and identify any potential threats that could cause division. Then, direct your love back toward your spouse. Your concern should be, “Is my love fully aimed at my husband/wife?”
Marriage is a work in progress. We can never think that our marriage has arrived, that we’ve reached the stage where bliss will reign without any effort on our part. But we can keep our marriage alive and vibrant–and away from the brink of divorce–when we direct our love toward and nurture oneness with our spouse. Make it a priority to find new ways to show your love.
Dear Lord, my heart’s desire is to communicate freely with my spouse and that there be no barriers between us. Guide us to keep our love directed toward one another. Amen.
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“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 8:3)
On separate 3×5 cards, write out the area of biggest concern for yourselves as a couple.
- Swap cards for a week
- Carry your spouse’s care with you all week and pray daily over the contents.
- In a week, share updates with each other.