Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Article 8 V 1.10 Approve what is Excellent

How easy it is to see the flaws.

You have them, I have them, we all do. Spending our lives in close contact with someone as we do in our marriage relationships gives us intimate knowledge of each others failings and shortcomings. And oh boy, can we make a list.

Ok, so there we have it ... no one is perfect! Big revelation there.

Paul is simply encouraging us to focus on the other parts. To look for and identify the things your partner does well, to notice the things that are commendable, the things that are excellent.

Remember what mom used to say, at least my mom did, "If you cant say anything good, don't say anything at all."

Paul is taking it a step further. As true as it is that all of us have faults, we also have good traits, all of us do some things well. We ought to be looking for them and when they are identified, actually speak those words of affirmation and appreciation to our spouse.

"Man, I am going to have to really look hard."

Ha! Well that may be so, but it will be an investigation that will yield great fruit.

Our relationships can at times corkscrew into bickering and fault-finding and criticism. We can change that immediately with a change of mind about the words that we speak. We simply choose to approve what is excellent rather than amplify what is imperfect.

I challenge you to speak a word of affirmation to your spouse today. Tell them something what you see in them that is excellent. It will bring immediate results, of that I am sure.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Article 7 V 1.8

For God is my witness, how I yearn for you with all the affection of Christ Jesus.

I have had occasion recently to speak into the lives of a couple and remind them how much they love each other. Both readily admitted it, yet somehow, their love for each other had been buried. The thing is, their love was real and real apparent. It had just grown cold or gotten lost in the stuff of daily life.

I encouraged them to do what Jesus told the church at Ephesus to do after proclaiming that they had "abandoned the love they had at the first." The Lord tells them to "
remember," repent (a change of mind that brings about a change of action) and repeat, "do" the first works again.

What were you doing at first when your love was inflamed and passionate. Do that!

But that would be just going through the motions one might say. The motion will bring the emotion. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6.21 "Where your treasure is, there your WILL BE also."

Jesus is saying invest, make regular deposits, place great value in your relationship and in the intimacy of marriage and your heart will follow.

Has the fire dimmed? It need not be so. Go back, remember how you won your husband, what you did to "catch" your wife... have some fun with it as you rediscover your passionate love for each other.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Article 6 V 1.7 Partakers of Grace

... for you are all partakers of grace with me.

This reminds me of what Peter says in I Peter 3.7:
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way,
showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel,
since they are heirs with you of the grace of life,
so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Men, listen, that woman sitting next to you, that treasure the Lord has blessed you with and entrusted to you, is a fellow heir with God's Son.

She is royalty!
A joint heir with Christ!

As such she is to be honored and esteemed and treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Peter says we need to understand this and live with her as though we understand this. She is a child of the King.

And if, for whatever reason, we begin to loose sight of this, keep in mind that Peter attaches to his exhortation a self-serving motivation. Do you want your prayers answered? Then don't allow the way you treat your wife to hinder the Lord from giving you those answers.

You have been blessed brother. You have been given the privilege of spending your life with royalty!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Article 5 V 1.7 Giving Up the Right to be Right

It is right for me to feel this way about you
Or, as we might say it, "I have the right to feel this way about you."

We find ourselves on the receiving end of our spouses fleshiness or rebellion or hard day at work, and we get hurt, something is said or done and we are wronged, truly wronged. Sometimes it a more prolonged "wronged," an issue that has been an ongoing grief in the marriage.

How will we respond?

I know one thing that we can often do; we can begin to feel as though I have a right to feel like I do in light of how he/she is treating me. "I mean anyone in their right mind would feel the same way." I can hold on to that emptional turf. Hold on to my defensive position. Hold on to my being "right."

Problem is, our "right mind" is not what we are called to rely upon. You have the mind of Christ (I Cor 2.16) and it is with this Christ-like mind that we are to respond to one another. Later in this letter to Philippi Paul will say, "Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus."

That means that at times I need to just let go of, give up the right to be right and begin to think in a way that represents Jesus. Forgiveness. Compassion. Patience. Love. Grace.

"But I"
"How about"
"Why doesn't"
"Why am I the one who has to be right when I was the one wronged?"

In order for reconciliation to happen, someone has to die.

"Well then he should"
"Then it is on her, she after all, is wrong"

No, its on me.
It is what I am called to do.
It is in obedience to the Lord that I lay down my rights and "be reconciled one to another."

Lord, give us the strength to lay our right down and do the right thing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Article 4 V 1.6 Not Done Yet

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful promise, God always finishes what He starts.

How does this apply to a marriage? We are not done yet! Paul says that our "completion" will be realized on, "The day of Jesus Christ." This means that I am not a finished product, nor is my wife. We are a work in progress.

We need to realize that the Lord is not done with us yet. All of us have room to grow, we are becoming more and more like Jesus as we continue to walk with Him. But in no way are we a finished product.

In marriage, we go a long way if we can simply give each other a break once in a while. Show some grace and forgiveness and patience towards each other. Allow the Lord to continue to do His thing in our spouse. Avoid making judgments; avoid being judgmental toward each other realizing that I am not a finished work either.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Article 3 V 1.5 A Life Partner

Because of your partnership in the gospel.
A "helpmate". That is how God described the woman that He would create for Adam. A helper, a traveling companion, a co-laborer.

To be honest, this is one of the areas I am not too good at yet, but my wife is helping me to see and understand how much of a help she is and how much she desires to be a part of what I am doing. I do believe as we see marriage work as it is designed, there is a partnership.

It only makes sense really. I have so many flaws and weaknesses - too many to count. now, my wife is pretty spectacular in every sense but, never the less, she does have a few (very few, honey) of her own.

Even between the two of us we lack much but what is certainly true is that our best shot at making good decisions, doing our best work at parenting, giving our best effort in service will be accomplished as we partner in the work.

I can not tell you how many times her strengths have bailed me out when I was blind to circumstances, when I needed her gifts in a particular situation, when a decision had to be made and her wisdom has affected how we proceeded.

It is just essential really. But, as I mentioned, I am not accomplished at this at all.

I hope to continue to improve.

As it turns out we are three verses into Philippians and we have already had three things to talk about. At this rate we could end up with a hundred of these little marriage tidbits before we are done. I suppose it is likely that there will be more than a couple that I still need work on, maybe you too.

That does not change the truth. Two heads really are better than one as it turns out.

Article 2 v 1.4 Praying for One Another

Always in every prayer of mine for you... making my prayer with joy.

Seems simple enough doesn't it... pray for your spouse.
I know that it can be overlooked. I know it can be ignored. I know that often we find ourselves praying for anything and anyone else and neglect the one we are closest to and are spending our lives with.

This is actually a little self-serving if you think about it. As a matter of fact, everything related to the marriage relationship is self serving because the two are "one." This means that if my partner is growing, I am the beneficiary and vice-versa. As the Lord works in your life or in your spouses life both of you are the recipients of the God-likeness that takes place.

So pray.

When is the last time you simply prayed that the Lord would just bless your husband/wife in some significant way? Just bless their day, the work of their hands, the things they are concerned about?

Here is another dynamic that takes place to be sure; it is very difficult to pray for your spouse to be blessed while at the same time being mad or frustrated or whatever at them. What we realize is that though it is true that "prayer changess things," it is also true that prayer changes ME. If I will pray for my wife to be blessed, truly blessed; I mean over the top, "windows of heaven" blessed, I am going to find myself letting go of that last argument, that last disagreement, that last thing that did not go as I planned. It just goes away.

Try it! you will find that as you pray for blessing, you will be the one blessed.