Day 40 – “Love is a Covenant”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2009 by Tim Troxell

Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. —Ruth 1:16

Congratulations. You’ve reached the end of the Love Dare—the book. But the experience and challenge of loving your mate is something that never comes to an end. It goes on for the rest of your life.

This book may end at Day 40. But who says your dare has to stop? And as you view your marriage relationship from this point on, we challenge you to consider it a covenant instead of a contract. These two words sound similar in meaning and intent but are in reality much different. Seeing marriage as a contract is like saying to your spouse, “I take you for me and we’ll see if this works out.” But realizing it as a covenant changes it to say, “I give myself to you and commit to this marriage for life.”

There are many other differences between covenants and contracts. A contract is usually a written agreement based on distrust, outlining the conditions and consequences if broken. A covenant is a verbal commitment based on trust, assuring someone that your promise is unconditional and good for life. It is spoken before God out of love for one another.

A contract is self-serving and comes with limited liability. It establishes a time frame for certain deliverables to be met and accomplished. A covenant is for the benefit of others and comes with unlimited responsibility. It has no expiration date. It is “till death do us part.” A contract can be broken with mutual consent. A covenant is intend to be unbreakable.

The Bible contains several major covenants as a part of the unfolding story of God’s people. God made a covenant with Noah, promising never to destroy all flesh with a worldwide flood

(Genesis 9:12-17). He made a covenant with Abraham, promising that an entire nation of descendents would come from his family line (Genesis 17:1-8). He made a covenant with Moses, declaring that the people of Israel would be God’s permanent possession (Exodus 19:3-6). He made a covenant with David, promising that a ruler would sit on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:7-16). Ultimately, He made a “new covenant” by the blood of Christ, establishing an unending, unchanging legacy of forgiven sins and eternal life for those who believe in Him (Hebrews 9:15). Never once has God broken any of these covenants.

And then there’s marriage—the strongest covenant on earth between two people, the pledge of a man and woman to establish a love that is unconditional and lasts a lifetime. In marriage, your wedding ring represents your covenant vows—not merely commitments you hoped to keep but premeditated promises, publicly spoken and witnesses by others.

As you’ve read numerous times in these pages, keeping this covenant is not something you can do in your own strength. There’s good reason why God was the One who initiated covenants with His people. He alone is able to fulfill the demands of His own promises. He alone is able to forgive the receivers of His covenant when they fail to uphold their part of the agreement. But the Spirit of God is within you by virtue of your faith in His Son and the grace bestowed upon you in salvation. That means you now can exercise your role as covenant keeper, no matter what may arise to challenge your faithfulness to it.

Especially if your spouse is not in a place of receiving your love right now, the act of covenant keeping can grow more daunting with each passing day. But marriage is not a contract with escape clauses and exception wordings. Marriage is a covenant intended to cut off all avenues of retreat or withdrawal. There’s nothing in all the world that should sever what God has joined together. Your love is based on covenant.

Hundreds of years after the prophet Malachi recorded these words, people are still wondering why God withholds His hand of blessing at times from their homes and marriages. “You say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant… For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and him who covers his garment with wrong, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:14, 16).

Every marriage is called to be an earthly picture of God’s heavenly covenant with His church. It is to reveal to the world the glory and beauty of God’s unconditional love for us. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9 NIV). Let His words inspire you to be a channel of God’s love to your spouse.

The time is now, man or woman of God, to renew your covenant of love in all sincerity and surrender. Love is too holy a treasure to trade in for another, and too powerful a bond to be broken without dire consequences. Fasten your love afresh on this one the Lord has given you to cherish, prize, and honor.

Your life together is before you. Dare to take hold of it and never let go.  We dare you.

Today’s Dare

Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home. Perhaps, if appropriate, you could make arrangements to formally renew your wedding vows before a minister and with family present. Make it a living testament to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the high honor of being one with your mate.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  What has God revealed to you during the Love Dare? How have your views of your marriage changed? How committed are you to God and to your spouse? Who can you share this with as a testimony?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

Day 39 – “Love Endures”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2009 by Tim Troxell

Love never fails. —1 Corinthians 13:8

Of all the things love dares to do, this is the ultimate. Though threatened, it keeps pursuing. Though challenged, it keeps moving forward. Though mistreated and rejected, it refuses to give up.  Love never fails.

Many times when a marriage is in crisis, the spouse who is trying to make thing work will go to the other, declaring in no uncertain terms that no matter what has happened in the past, he or she is committed to this marriage. Their love can be counted on to last. They promise. But not wanting to hear this yet, the other spouse holds their position. They still want out. They don’t see this marriage lasting long-term. Nor do they even want it anymore.

The partner, who has just laid his or her heart on the line, extending the olive branch, can’t handle the rejection. So they withdraw their statement. “Fine. If that’s the way you want it, that’s the way it’ll be.”

But if love is really love, it doesn’t waffle when it’s not received the way you want it to be. If love can be told to quit loving, then it’s not really love. Love that is from God is unending, unstoppable. If the object of its affection doesn’t choose to receive it, love keeps giving anyway.  Love never fails.  Never.

That’s what Jesus’ love is like. His disciples were nothing if not unpredictable. After their final Passover meal together, when Jesus told them they would all forsake Him before the night was over, Peter declared, “Even  though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away….Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:33,35). All the other disciples echoed the very same promise.

But later that night, Jesus’ inner circle of followers—Peter, James, and John —would sleep through Christ’s agony in the garden. On the way to Christ’s crucifixion, Peter would deny Him three times in the courtyard. But at that precise moment, the Bible says Jesus “turned and looked” at him (Luke 22:61). His men had failed Him—again—within hours of their sworn promises. Yet He never stopped loving them, because He and His love are “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

When you have done everything within your power to obey God, your spouse may still forsake you and walk away—just as Jesus’ followers did to Him. But if your marriage fails, if your spouse walks away, let it not be because you gave up or stopped loving them.  Love never fails.

Of the nine “fruits of the Spirit” listed in Galatians 5, the first of all is love. And because the unchanging Holy Spirit is its source—the same Holy Spirit who dwells in the hearts of all believers—then the love He creates in you is unchanging as well. It is based on the will of God, the calling of God, and the Word of God—all unchanging things. The Bible declares them “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will not pass away” (Luke 21:33).

Only a few days ago you were Love Dared to build your marriage on the Word of God. That’s because when all else fails, the truth of God will still be standing. Along the way you have also been dared to be patient, to be unselfish, to sacrifice for your mate’s needs.

These are not just loving ideas, existing in isolation. Each quality of love outlined in this book is based on the love of God, captured and expressed in the Word of God. The unchanging Word of God. No challenge or circumstance can occur that will ever put an expiration date on Him or His love. Therefore, your love—made of the same substance—bears the same, unchanging characteristics.  Love never fails.

So today your dare is to put your unfailing love into the most powerful, personal words you can. This is your chance to declare that no matter what imperfections exist—both in you and in your spouse—your love is greater still. No matter what they’ve done or how often they’ve done it, you choose to love them anyway. Though you’ve been far from steady in your treatment of them over the years, your days of being inconsistent in love are over. You accept this one man or woman as God’s special gift to you, and you promise to love them until death.

You’re saying to your spouse, “Even if you don’t like what you’re reading—even if you don’t like me—I choose to love you anyway. Forever.”  Because love never fails.

Today’s Dare

Spend time in personal prayer, then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse. Include why you are committing to this marriage until death, and that you have purposed to love them no matter what. Leave it in a place your mate will find it.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  What were some of the hesitations you had in writing this letter? How do you expect your spouse to respond to it? How did God help you in writing it, and what did the process teach you about yourself?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

Day 38 – “Love Fulfills Dreams”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 by Tim Troxell

Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4

What is something your spouse would really, really, love? And how often do you ask yourself that question?

Common sense tells us we can’t give our wife or husband everything they might like. Our budgets and account balances tell us we probably couldn’t afford it anyway. And even if we could, it might not be good for us. Or for them.

But perhaps you’ve let “no” become too quick a response. Perhaps you’ve let this negative default setting become too reasoned and rational, too automatic. What if instead of dismissing the thought, you did your best to honor it. What might happen if the one thing they said you’d never do for them became the next thing you did?

Love sometimes needs to be extravagant. To go all out. It sometimes needs to set aside the technicalities and just bless because it wants to.

Is that thinking too much like a teenager? Is love like this no longer on the menu after so many years of marriage? After all, with the way your relationship might be at the moment, wouldn’t it be less than genuine to indulge your spouse if your heart’s not in it?

Well, how about putting your heart in it. How about adopting a new level of love that actually wants to fulfill every dream and desire you possibly can.

Hasn’t God’s love met needs in your heart that once seemed out of the question? You were living under such a load of sin and regret; you thought you’d never earn your way back into His good graces. But He looked at you with love and said you didn’t have to. He wanted you back. He wanted you to realize your need for Him, and that as you repented and turned to Him, He would love and forgive you. “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

You thought life was over when a certain setback took all the wind out of your sails. You broke down and cried out to Him. You prayed like you’d never prayed before. And thought it wasn’t easy getting back up and walking on, you somehow survived. He met you with His promised peace “which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7) and kept you on your feet.

It wasn’t when you were behaving like an angel that God chose to pour out His love on you. It wasn’t because you were so deserving that He offered you His grace. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

He’s your model. He’s the One your love is designed to imitate. Though you weren’t a likely candidate for His love, He gave it anyway. He paid the price.

Not everything your spouse wants has a hefty price tag. Not everything he or she desires can be bought with money. Your wife may really want your time. She may really want your attention. She may really want to be treated like a lady, to know that her husband considers her his greatest treasure. She may really want to see in your eyes a love that chooses to be there no matter what.

Your husband may really want your respect. He may really want you to acknowledge him as the head of the house in front of the children. He may really want you to put your arms around his neck for no apparent reason, surprising him with a long kiss or love note when there’s not even a birthday or anniversary to justify it. He may really need to know that you still think he’s strong and handsome, the way you used to.

Dreams and desires come in all shapes and sizes. But love takes careful notice of each one.

*Love calls you to listen to what your mate is saying and hoping for.

*Love calls you to remember the things that are unique to your relationship, the pleasures and enjoyments that bring a smile to the other’s face.

*Love calls you to give when it would be a lot more convenient to wait.

*And love calls you to daydream about these opportunities so regularly that their desires become yours as well.

We dare you to think in terms of overwhelming your spouse with love. To surprise them by exceeding all their expectations with your kindness. It may or may not be a financial sacrifice, but it needs to reflect a heart that is willing to express itself with extravagance.

What is something your spouse would really, really love? It’s time you started living out the answer to that question.

Today’s Dare

Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable. Commit this to prayer, and start mapping out a plan for meeting some (if not all) of their desires, to whatever level you possibly can.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  What has made you resistant to fulfilling your mate’s desires in the past? How would it change your relationship if they knew their dreams were a priority to you? What desires are you attempting to meet?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

Day 37 – “Love Agrees In Prayer”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2009 by Tim Troxell

If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father. – Matt. 18:19

If someone told you that by changing one thing about your marriage, you could guarantee with near 100 percent assurance that your life together would significantly improve, you would at least want to know what it was. And for many godly couples, that “one thing” is the daily practice of praying together.

To someone who tends to devalue spiritual matters, this sounds fairly ridiculous. And if told that shared prayer is a key ingredient in marital longevity and leads to a heightened sense of sexual intimacy, they would think you had really gone too far. But the unity that grows between a man and woman who regularly pray together forms an intense and powerful connection. Within the sanctuary of your marriage, praying together can work wonders on every level of your relationship.

When you were joined together as husband and wife, God gave you a wedding gift—a permanent prayer partner for life. When you need wisdom on a certain decision, you and your prayer partner can seek God together for the answer. When you’re struggling with your own fears and insecurities, your prayer partner can hold your hand and intercede on your behalf. When you and your spouse are not getting along and can’t get past a particular argument or sticking point, you can call a time out, drop your weapons, and go with your partner into emergency prayer. It should become your automatic reflex action when you don’t know what else to do.

It’s hard enough to stay angry long with someone for whom you’re praying. It’s hard not to back down when you’re hearing your mate humbly cry out to God and beg Him for mercy in the midst of your heated crisis. In prayer, two people remember that God has made them one. And in the grip of His uniting presence, disharmony blends into beauty.

Praying for your spouse leads your heart to care more deeply about them. But more importantly, God is pleased when He sees you both humbling yourselves and seeking His face together. His blessing falls on you when you agree in prayer.

The word Jesus used when He talked about “agreeing” in prayer has the idea of a harmonic symphony. Two separate notes played one at a time, sound different. They’re opposed to each other. But play them at the same time—in agreement—and they can create a pleasing sense of harmony. Together they give a fuller, more complete sound than either of them can make on its own.

Agreeing in prayer is like that—even in the midst of disagreeing. It pulls you both back toward your real center. It places you on common ground, face-to-face before the Father. It restores harmony in the midst of contention.

The church—which in Scripture has a marriage connotation with Christ—can sometimes place where conflict rules. The disharmony that can flare up over various matters can derail the church from its mission and disrupt the free flow of worship and unity. At times godly church leaders will see what is taking place, break off discussions, and call the people of God to prayer. Instead of continuing the discord and allowing more feelings to be hurt, they will seek unity by turning their hearts back to God and appealing to Him for help.

The same thing happens in our home when there is an intervention of prayer, even at high points of disagreement. It stops the bleeding. It quiets the loud voices. It pauses you as you realize whose presence you’re in.

But prayer is for a lot more than breaking up fights. Prayer is a privilege to be enjoyed on a consistent, daily basis. When you know that prayer time awaits you before going to bed, it will change the way you spend your evening. Even if your prayers together are typically short and to the point, this will become a standing appointment that you can orbit your day around, keeping God in the middle of everything.

It’s true that beginning a habit like this can initially feel awkward and uncomfortable. Anything this powerful will surprise you with its weight and responsibility when you actually try doing it. But bear in mind that God wants you to engage with Him—invites you, in fact—and He will grow you and you take it seriously and push past those times when you don’t know what to say.

You’ll look back at this common thread that ran through everything from average Mondays to major decisions and be so thankful for this “one thing” that changed everything. This is one area where it’s imperative that you agree to agree.

Today’s Dare

Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together. Talk about the best time to do this, whether it’s in the morning, your lunch hour, or before bedtime. Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements, and needs before the Lord. Don’t forget to thank Him for His provision and blessing. Even if your spouse refuses to do this, resolve to spend this daily time in prayer yourself.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  What can you do to help your mate be willing for the two of you to begin praying together? If you agreed to pray together, what was it like? What did you learn from it?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

Day 36 – “Love is God’s Word”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2009 by Tim Troxell

This post is for Tuesday, October 27th***

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. —Psalm 119:105

For some people, the Bible seems just too big to understand. It’s like an impossible challenge. They don’t know where or how to begin. But as a Christian, you’re not left alone to try grasping the major themes and deep meanings of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit, who now lives in your heart by way of salvation, is an illuminator of truth. “For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God”

(1 Corinthians 2:10). And because of His internal lamp, the Scriptures are now yours to read, absorb, comprehend, and live by.  But first, you’ve got to commit to do it.

Be in it. If this is not already a habit of yours, now is the time to begin reading a portion of the Bible every day. Ideally, read it together as husband and wife— in the morning, perhaps, or before bed. Be like the writer of Psalm 119, who could say, “With all my heart I have sought You… Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:10-11).

Those who practice a consistent pattern of reading the Bible soon discover it to be “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

Stay under it. You’re right; the Bible can be deep and challenging. That’s why it’s so important to be a part of a church where the Word if faithfully taught and preached. By hearing it explained in sermons and Bible study classes, you’ll get a broader, more balanced view of what God is saying through His Word. You’ll also get to join with others who are on the same journey you are, wanting to be fed by the truths of Scripture. “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14).

Live it. Unlike most other books, which are only designed to be read and digested, the Bible is a living book. It lives because, unlike the ancient writings of other religions, its Author is still alive. And it lives because it becomes a part of who you are, how you think, and what you do. “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22).

Jesus talks about people who build their lives on sand—their own logic, their best guesses, the latest reasoning. When the storms of life begin to blow (Which they always will), foundations of sand will only result in total disaster. Their houses may light up and look nice for a while, but they are tragedies waiting to happen. Ultimately they collapse.

But Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). When your home is founded on the rock of God’s unchanging Word, it is insured against destruction.

That’s because God has the right plan for everything, and He’s revealed these plans in His Word. They’re right there for anyone who will read it and apply it.

God has a plan for the way you handle your money. A plan for the way you raise your children. A plan for the way you treat your body. A plan for the way you spend your time. A plan for the way you handle conflict. Isn’t it just like your Maker to know exactly what you need?

If being a regular Bible reader is new for you, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll begin thinking differently and more eternally. And if you are serious about establishing strategies for life based on God’s way of doing things, He will guide you to make connections between what you’re reading and how it applies. It’s an enlightening journey with discoveries to be made all the time.

Every aspect of your life that you submit to, God’s principles will grow stronger and more long-lasting over time. But any part you withhold from Him, choosing instead to try your own hand at it, will weaken and eventually fail when the storms of life hit you. It may, in fact, be the one area that hastens the downfall of your home and marriage.

Wise couples build their houses on the rock of God’s Word. They’ve seen what sand can do. They know how it feels when their footing gets soft and the foundation gives way. That’s why you must determine to build your life and marriage on the solid rock of the Bible, and then you can plan on a stronger future—no matter how bad the storms get.

Today’s Dare

Commit to reading the Bible every day. Find a devotional book or other resource that will give you some guidance. If your spouse is open to it, see if they will commit to daily bible readings with you. Begin submitting each area of your life to its guidance and start building on the rock.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  What parts of your life are in the greatest need of God’s counsel? Where do you feel the most susceptible to failure? What are you asking God to show you through His Word?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

Day 35 – “Love is Accountable”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 by Tim Troxell

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. —Proverbs 15:22 NIV

Mighty sequoia trees tower hundreds of feet in the air and can withstand intense environmental pressure. Lightning can strike them, fierce winds can blow, and forest fires can rage around them. But the sequoia endures, standing firm, only growing stronger through the trials.

One of the secrets to the strength of this giant tree is what goes on below the surface. Unlike many trees, they reach out and interlock their roots with the sequoias around them. Each becomes empowered and reinforced by the strength of the others.

The secret to the sequoia is also a key to maintaining a strong, healthy marriage. A couple that faces problems alone is more likely to fall apart during tough times. However, the ones who interlock their lives in a network of other strong marriages radically increase their chances of surviving the fiercest of storms. It is crucial that a husband and wife pursue godly advice, healthy friendships, and experienced mentors.

Everyone needs wise counsel throughout life. Wise people constantly seek it and gladly receive it. Fools never ask for it and then ignore it when it’s given to them.

As the Bible so clearly explains, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15).

Gaining wise counsel is like having a detailed road map and a personal guide while traveling on a long, challenging journey. It can be the difference between continual success or the destruction of another marriage. It is vital that you invite strong couples to share the wisdom they have gained through their own successes and failures.

Why waste years of your life learning painful lessons when you could discover those same truths during a few hours of wise counsel? Why not cross the bridges other have built? Wisdom is more valuable than gold. Not receiving it is like letting priceless coins pass through your fingers.

Good marriage mentors warn you before you make a bad decision. They encourage you when you are ready to give up. And they cheer you on as you reach new levels of intimacy in your marriage.

Do you have an older couple or a friend of the same gender you can turn to for good advice, for prayer support, and for regular accountability check-ups? Do you have someone in your life who shoots straight with you?

You and your spouse need these types of friends and mentors on a consistent basis. The Bible says, “Encourage one another day after day… so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Too often we can isolate ourselves from others. If we are not careful, we could push away the people who love us the most.

You must guard yourself against the wrong influencers. Everyone has an opinion and some people will encourage you to act selfishly and leave your mate in order to pursue your own happiness. Be careful about listening to advice from people who don’t have a good marriage themselves.

If your marriage is hanging by a thread or already heading for a divorce, then you need to stop everything and pursue solid counseling as quickly as possible. Call a pastor, a Bible believing counselor, or a marriage ministry today. As awkward as it may initially be to open up your life to a stranger, your marriage is worth every second spent and every sacrifice you will make for it. Even if your marriage is fairly stable, you’re in no less need of honest, open mentors—people who can put wind in your sails and make your marriage even better.

How do you pick a good mentor? You look for a person who has the kind of marriage you want. You look for a person whose heart for Christ comes first before everything else. You look for someone who doesn’t live by his or her opinions but by the unchanging Word of God. And most times than not, this person will likely be delighted you asked for help. Start praying for God to send this person into your life. Then pick a time to meet and talk.

If this doesn’t sounds too important to you, it would be a good idea to ask yourself why. Do you have something to hide? Are you afraid you will be embarrassed? Do you think your marriage is exempt from needing outside help? Does diving into a river of positive influence not appeal to you? Don’t be the captain of another Titanic divorce by ignoring the warning signs around you when you could have been helped.

Here’s an important reminder from Scripture: “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). This appointment is unbreakable. And though we’re all ultimately responsible for the way we approach it, we can surely stand as much help as others can give. It might just be the relational influence that takes your marriage from mediocre to amazing.

Today’s Dare

Find a marriage mentor—someone who is a strong Christian and who will be honest and loving with you. If you feel that counseling is needed, then take the first step to set up an appointment. During this process, ask God to direct your decisions and discernment.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  Who did you choose? Why did you select this person? What do you hope to learn from them?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

Day 34 – “Love Celebrates Godliness”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2009 by Tim Troxell

[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. —1 Corinthians 13:6

From the moment you close your Bible in the morning, nearly everything else you’ll encounter throughout the day will be luring you away from its truths. The opinions of your coworkers, the news coverage on television, your typical Web sites, the various temptations of the day—all of these and more will be working overtime to shape your perceptions of what’s true and most desirable in life.

They’ll say that having a knockout wife who dresses to get other men’s attention is a good thing. They’ll say that bad language and immorality in the movies are fine for mature people. They’ll say that church isn’t important in a person’s life. They’ll say that we each must find God in our own way.

They’ll say a lot of things. And they’ll say them so loudly and frequently that if we’re not careful, we can start believing that what they say is the way things should be. We can begin valuing what everybody else values and thinking the way everybody else does.

But the meaning of “real life” changes dramatically when we understand that God’s Word is the ultimate expression of what real life is. The teachings it contains are not just good guesses at what should matter. They are principles that reflect the way things really are, the way God created life to be. His ideals and instructions are the only pathways to real blessing, and when we see people following them in obedience to the Lord; it should cause us to rejoice.

What makes you the proudest of your husband? Is it when he comes home with a trophy from the company golf tournament, or when he gathers the family before bedtime to pray together and read the Word?

What over joys you the most in your wife? Is it seeing her try a new painting technique in the children’s bedrooms, or seeing her forgive the neighbor whose dog dug up her plants?

You are one of the most influential people in your spouse’s life. Have you been using your influence to lead them to honor God, or dishonor Him?

Love rejoices most in the things that please God. When your mate is growing in Christian character, persevering in faith, seeking purity, and embracing roles of giving and service—becoming spiritually responsible in your home—the Bible says we should be celebrating it. The word “rejoices” in 1 Corinthians 13:6 carries the idea of being absolutely thrilled, excitedly cheering them on for what they’re allowing God to accomplish in their lives.

The apostle Paul, who helped establish and minister to many of the first-century churches, wrote in his letters how delighted he was to hear reports of the people’s faithfulness and growth in Jesus. “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows even greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).

The apostle John, who had walked closely with Jesus and became one of the main leaders in the early church, once wrote to his flock, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4).

That should be what energizes us when we see it happening in our mate. More than when they save money on the grocery bill. More than when they achieve success at work. Sometimes by accepting modern culture’s take on what to applaud in our spouse, we can even be guilty of encouraging them to sin—perhaps by feeding their vanity, or by letting boys be boys.

But “love does not rejoice in unrighteousness”—not in ourselves and not in our mate. Rather, love “rejoices with the truth,” the way Paul did when he said to the Roman church, “The report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil” (Romans 16:19). He knew that the pursuit of godliness, purity, and faithfulness was the only way for them to find joy and ultimate fulfillment. Being “wise” about holiness while being “innocent” about sin—remaining unjaded and uncompromising as we travel through life—is the way to win in God’s eyes.

And what more could we want for our wife or husband than for them to experience God’s best in life?

Be happy for any success your spouse enjoys. But save your heartiest congratulations for those times when they are honoring God with their worship and obedience.

Today’s Dare

Find a specific, recent example when your spouse demonstrated Christian character in a noticeable way. Verbally commend them for this at some point today.

At the end of the day, journal about your experience.  What example did you choose to recognize? How many other ways could you celebrate their growth in godliness? How could you encourage them to persevere in it?

If you are willing, and if appropriate, please share your experience with others by leaving a comment in response to this post. Doing so is easy! Simply click on “Leave a Comment” right below this post. Fill out the “Leave a Reply” section that pops up and type your journal entry. Don’t worry too much about formatting. When you are finished, submit your entry. After it’s approved, it will appear for others to read. Sharing your experience will help create community and it will provide accountability and inspirition to others.

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