Gary L.Thomas

Devotions for a Sacred Marriage

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    Nella Bellahas quotedlast year
    different. That’s what gives glory to God. That’s what helps us appreciate God’s love for us, because God loves us“anyway.” He loved us when we rebelled against him. He keeps loving us when we continue to sin against him. He gives and gives—and we take him for granted, the height of ungratefulness. He is eager to meet with us, and we get too busy to slow down and notice him. He is good to us, and we accuse him mercilessly when every little thing doesn’t go just the way we planned it; in other words, we can be wicked.
    But God loves us anyway. To love anyway is to love like God and to learn about God’s love for us, who loves the “ungrateful and wicked.”
    That’s love, Jesus style.
    Let’s love like that
    Nella Bellahas quotedlast year
    If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who aregood to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And ifyou lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is thatto you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners, ’ expecting to be repaid in full.But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them withoutexpecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, andyou will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungratefuland wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
    Luke 6:32–36
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    Make someone happy today—by loving your spouse. You may not realize who is watching, but I’ll guarantee you this: someone is
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    Would you be like this Savior? Then die to your demands. Be resurrected to utter dependence on your heavenly Father, who has loved you, is loving you, and will always love you like no one else can, including your spouse
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    ultimately provide what we need—or will give us strength to do without
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    Anydesire can be obstructed and thereby bring frustration. We do not have an absolute right to anything. Rather, we have an obligation to trust that God, in his providence, will ultimately
    Nella Bellahas quotedlast year
    Honestly ask yourself, “Am I good in bed?”
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    Here are some questions to ask: Do I want to reward my wife’s commitment to me, or do I want to make her regret it? Do I want to bless her, or will I take her for granted? Do I want to be a generous lover, or am I content to be a miser who reluctantly doles out occasional “favors”? Am I creative? Am I enthusiastic? Am I initiating
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    Don’t run from yourself. Be humble, stay where you are, and focus on changing your attitudes and actions instead of your spouse
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    Running from Yourself
    For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not thinkof yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourselfwith sober judgment.
    Romans 12:3
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    Do you seek happiness? Then seek to love. Move toward your spouse. Serve him. Love her. Cherish him. Sacrifice for her. Don’t miss a single opportunity to demonstrate a kindness or to speak some word of affirmation. In doing so, you will invite God into your life, home, and soul, and you will find true biblical happiness
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    Each of us can choose to do this individually, regardless of how our spouses respond. Their actions toward us are not in our keeping, but our ability to be kind and giving lies entirely within our realm. And the beauty of God’s creation is that when we love, we experience God—and that’s what brings true happiness. When we act in love, we invite God into our house, and God brings a soul-fulfilling joy that transcends contemporary notions of mere euphoria.
    When marriages break down, they often do so in a context of resentment and a feeling that we’re not getting what we need or want. But looked at in the light of love, this enemy loses all its power and place: “The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching, ” Drummond writes, “is that there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in giving. I repeat, There is no happiness in having, or in getting,but only in giving. And half the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. It consists in giving and serving others. . . . He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way—it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.”27
    Nella Bellahas quotedlast year
    Where Love is, God is. He that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God. God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. . . . Lose no chance of giving pleasure. For that is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit. I will pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again
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    “It is moreblessed to give than to receive.”
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    “But my spouse doesn’t watch my back, so why should I watch his [or hers]?!” go back and read the first three verses of Romans 15 one more time: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself.”
    Nella Bellahas quotedlast year
    Certain elements of the Christian faith must be developed in solitude. The traditional disciplines of fasting, prayer, study, and meditation are necessary building blocks—but Christian character requires community. Marriage can give us this community, and more. It can usher us into the greatest thing in the world—by providing us, every day, the practice field on which we can learn how to love. The mundane and often routine duties of life provide an earthly education that can take us to heavenly heights
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    But a marriage is built on the bedrock of many considered decisions: Will I love, or will I hold a grudge? Will I serve, or will I be selfish? Will I notice this person, or will I retreat into my own world? Will I please my spouse, or will I draw pleasure from ignoring him [or her]? Marriage reveals and then purifies our motivations in a way that infatuation never can.
    Nella Bellahas quotedlast year
    In the same way we can become calloused toward God, so we can become calloused toward each other. Pray for a new spirit and attitude toward your spouse, that your “heart of stone” will become a “heart of flesh.”
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    Through Ezekiel, God promised Israel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
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    completely missing opportunities to affirm and reconnect with each other.
    Never underestimate the element of occasional surprise in delighting your spouse and building up your marriage. It can be so simple—a wife going to the trouble of picking out a book on tape that her husband can listen to on his morning commute; a husband buying his wife a completely unexpected gift, unconnected to any holiday or anniversary, for no other reason than to tell her he loves her. What would it mean to your spouse if you took an afternoon off—from work or watching the kids—to go to a matinee, take a walk around the lake, or go on a picnic? Sometimes all it takes is something out of the ordinary, something that says, “I don’t take you—or us—for granted. I’ve put some special thought into this. I want to fight the ‘murderous repetitions’ and ‘infernal element of boredom.’”
    Through Ezekiel, God promised Israel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of
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