Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/31

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DECEMBER 31

Strong into the Night

He who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. PROVERBS 29:25

In September 1939, Great Britain allied with France and several other alarmed countries in declaring war on Hitler’s Germany, which had invaded Poland in its intended march toward global domination. By the end of the year, anxieties throughout England remained on high alert; everyone was fearful of bombing and invasion.

When King George VI sat down before two large microphones to make his Christmas Day speech to the nation, he was dressed in his official uniform as Admiral of the Fleet. With so many parts of the world facing an uncertain future, his goal was to reassure the people that their nation was prepared and able and their cause right and just.

“A new year is at hand,” the king said. “We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.”

Then, turning to some lines of poetry his wife had recently shared with him, he concluded his speech with these words, which are a fitting close to our year together. They offer a word of encouragement that—we hope—will settle your hearts amid the troubles of our own era in history. These lines are from “The Gate of the Year,” a poem written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied, “Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”

DISCUSS

As you make the turn to a new year, what are you facing that needs you to sink your hand more deeply into God’s hand?

PRAY

Pray for one another that as you embark upon a new year, God will grant you and your family His favor.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/29

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DECEMBER 29

All You Really Need

The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. DEUTERONOMY 33:27

I want you to think for a moment of what you’d say to your spouse if you knew you were going to die. What words of comfort would you bring? Where would you point him or her for hope? What counsel would you give that would most certainly be true and not disappoint?

Think. What would you say? How would you pray?

Over 300 years ago, Obadiah Holmes must have grappled with questions like those. Evidently, Obadiah Holmes built his house upon the rock of Jesus Christ. And in a love letter he wrote to his wife before he died, it was only nat-ural to gently remind her to trust Him:

When I am removed, consider the Lord as your husband, as your father, as your Lord and Savior, who has said that whom He loves, He loves to the end. And He will not leave you nor forsake you, but will carry you through all until He brings you to glory. Therefore, lift up your head and be not discouraged. Say to your soul, “Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God and trust in His name,” and you shall not be disappointed.

And now, my dear wife, whom I love as my own soul, I commit you to the Lord, who has been a gracious, merciful God to us all our days, not
once doubting that He will be gracious to you in life—or death. He will carry you through the valley of tears with His own supporting hand. To
Him I commit you for counsel, wisdom, and strength, and to keep you blameless till the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory,
honor, and praise.

What would you say to your spouse if you knew your time was up?

DISCUSS

Talk about this love letter and what it means to you. How is this husband providing for his wife even in his death?

PRAY

Throw your trust on Him today, the same way you’ve been doing your whole life long.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/28

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DECEMBER 28

The Goodness of God

What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? PSALM 116:12

We closed our first year-long devotional book with a letter written by a man named Obadiah Holmes to his nine children in the late 1600s. As we near the close of this book, we’d like to share another letter Obadiah wrote to his wife, tenderly exhorting her to remember a full lifetime of God’s faithfulness. As you read it, notice what was important after nearly a half-century of marriage:

My heart has cleaved to you ever since we came together, and is knit to you in death, which is the cause of these lines as a reminder of God’s goodness to us in keeping us together almost fifty years. God has made all our conditions comfortable to us, whether in fullness or emptiness, lifted up or thrown down, in honor or disgrace, sickness or health, by giving us contentment and love for one another. We have every reason while we live to praise His holy name while we are together. And when death does separate us, may the one still breathing praise Him while breath remains.

Therefore, having some thought that I may go away before you, having signs that my day is but short and it may be that I cannot speak to you at the last, I shall give you some considerations for your meditation—that they may speak when I cannot.

Consider how the Lord carried you along ever since you came into this world. He has provided for you and preserved you in many dangers, and has given you food and raiment with contentment. He has increased our store, sometimes to our wonder, also continuing our health in very great measure. He has given us a great posterity, and has provided for them in a comfortable manner.

Like Obadiah did in this letter, make a point of frequently encouraging each other by reciting the great deeds of God, reflecting back on those spiritual milestones that prove His long-term faithfulness.

DISCUSS

How has God provided for you “sometimes to [your] wonder”? See if you can list 5 to 10 ways each.

PRAY

Give thanks for God’s constant provision, care and attention to your needs.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/27

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DECEMBER 27

Sky High

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. ECCLESIASTES 2:1

Perhaps you’ve seen one of those slingshot rides, like the one my friend Scott and I witnessed in Orlando, Florida. It’s essentially two giant pipe-like towers arranged in a V shape. In between them, attached by steel cables, is an open-air capsule that’s lowered to the ground and secured by hundreds of springs compressed with 40 tons of force. Smoke billows from underneath it like a volcano about to erupt. Then—ZOOM—the capsule is released at nearly 100 miles an hour, rocketing 35 stories into the air in a little more than a second.

And to make it even more fun, the passengers’ faces are shown on a giant video screen. I’ll never forget the first couple we watched. The man was in horror, wanting nothing but a chance to walk away alive. The woman, on the other hand, was totally absorbing the thrill, squealing and smiling with sheer adrenaline. She was an “all systems go” kind of a person.

She reminded me of many people in the world who are hooked on pleasure and excitement. When life doesn’t deliver, they get disappointed. They keep searching for the next thrill to add a surge of adrenaline through their veins.

Is this a struggle for you? Do you often find yourself longing for the weekend or some other exciting diversion, unable to draw purpose and meaning from the midday, mundane moments of life? I believe that God wants us to learn to live contentedly within the usual and ordinary (see 1 Timothy 6:6).

To truly enjoy the life God has given you, you need to know how to be happy on the days when you’re not at Disney World.

DISCUSS

How easily are you bored? What are your hobbies and passions? Talk about whether you are hooked on seeking the next experience or thrill.

PRAY

Thank Jesus Christ for the gift of each day, even when many days seem to be the same. Ask Him to help you see Him and the treasure that rests inside every moment.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/26

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DECEMBER 26

Follow the Instructions

The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe. PROVERBS 28:26, HCSB

A number of years ago while Christmas shopping, we came across one of those wooden swing sets on sale. Dirt cheap. The kids were outspoken in their desire to have one, and Barbara and I caved in. So later that day I returned to the store—without the kids—and picked one up.

In the box.

It was Christmas Eve before I finally got both arms into that “some assembly required” project. For someone like me who is not a real whizbang working with my hands, it took hours to put together. Barbara frequently stood alongside, calming me down, helping me read and interpret the instructions, encouraging me every step of the way.

And it was worth it. It was the hit of Christmas Day.

Marriage is a lot like that swing set. Most of us get married and try to put the thing together without ever consulting the printed instructions. Or if we do check the Scriptures, we tend to select only those portions that we want our spouse to follow. And we ignore what the instructions tell us about our responsibility.

Marriage is hard work. And many people are making it more difficult by overlooking the fundamental truth that marriage is a spiritual institution designed by God for two imperfect people to be joined together in their dependence upon Him and each other. If each of you wants to be “one who walks in wisdom” (Proverbs 28:26), you cannot ignore His instructions on how you build and maintain a spiritual union.

DISCUSS

Describe what it’s like living outside the Bible’s teaching and influence. What are the benefits of building a marriage according to the divine instruction manual?

PRAY

Pray that God will instill in you a renewed craving for His Word, a hunger to read it, retain it, rehearse it through the day and apply it, both in your marriage and in your family.  

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"Christmas Praise"

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DECEMBER 25

Christmas Praise

He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 TIMOTHY 3:16 

As I read the nativity stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, one thing I note is that many of those who saw the first Noel up close responded in praise and worship:

Zechariah said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant—as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days” (Luke 1:68-75).

Mary said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him” (Luke 1:46-50).

Simeon said, “Now, Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

As you celebrate Christmas, may your response be the same—one of worship and praise to God our King.

DISCUSS

Have each member of your family write out their own words of Christmas praise and share them with one another.

PRAY

May Jesus Christ always have your attention the way He does today.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/24

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DECEMBER 24

Thanks, Dad

Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father. LEVITICUS 19:3

Just about all of us know or remember what it’s like for Christmas to roll around with little money for buying presents. Reminds me of the financially strapped college student who once wrote to tell me about a 99-cent gift he once gave his father . . . and how it became priceless in his family’s Christmas lore.

The gift was a poem, a journey of memories that wound back through days he and his dad had spent in the woods and at the fishing hole, telling stories and swapping smiles. Pasted in a cheap store frame, it didn’t have the look of a present that would still be talked about years after the event. But when his father began to read aloud the seven-stanza poem, he began to sob uncontrollably.

All gift giving stopped. Every eye turned to see, every ear to listen. Now others were crying. Soon everyone had gathered around him, embracing a family’s love, warmed by the tribute of “this duckling, almost broke from the clutch, who wants to say to the father drake: ‘Dad, I love you so much!’ “

For years, I have been encouraging people to share these kinds of tributes with their parents. As wonderful as funeral eulogies can be, how many of them are delivered with the hope that loved ones can somehow hear these words never spoken during their lifetimes? We should bring out these verbal bouquets of blessing today, to honor parents who are still living. We owe it to them, and we owe it to God.

This young man’s 99-cent Christmas tribute hung near his dad’s easy chair for years, showering down honor and gratitude at every glance. And whenever guests came to their home, they were usually directed to the cheap frame and the college-age verse and asked to read it themselves. That’s the power of a tribute.

DISCUSS

How could you show your honor and gratitude to your parents in some unforgettable way?

PRAY

Ask God to show you what to say and how to say it in such a way that your mother and father will truly feel honored.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/23

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DECEMBER 23

Changing Their Tune

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! PSALM 133:1

At one point, both our sons, Benjamin and Samuel, were students at the same university. One evening Samuel called home to talk, and he was interrupted by a young lady who came through the room and asked Samuel to let her talk to us. She said, “Did you hear what happened at the Campus Crusade meeting the other night?”

“No,” we answered.

“Well,” she started in, “first of all, Benjamin got up and shared how he was going to be taking a year off from school to go volunteer as a missionary in Estonia. Then, after he finished talking and sat down, Samuel stood up and told everyone what a phenomenal brother he had—how much he loved him and admired him, how much of a mentor he had been to him as a younger brother, how he had helped him make his way around as a freshman at college. Then Samuel sat down next to Benjamin, put his arms around him and just hugged him. It was so cool.”

It was one of those moments when you sit back, take a deep breath and go, “Thank You, Lord! It has all been worth it.”

These were the same sons who argued and fought each other so often that we often threatened to draw a line down the middle of their bedroom and declare each side a foreign country, off-limits to the other person. Barbara and I had our moments when they were teenagers when we wondered if they would ever get along.

If you find yourself in a similar situation—with children who fight like competitors in the World Federation of Wrestling—I want to encourage you that there is hope. Pray and ask God to knit their hearts together. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that you ask or think.

DISCUSS

Talk about your children’s relationships with one another. Write down one developmental action step that you want to train each of your children with.

PRAY

Pray for perseverance and wisdom as you continue training and teaching your children.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/22

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DECEMBER 22

Me Too

I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. PSALM 51:3

I remember listening one night to a woman who told Barbara and me that she had finally had enough. She was right—her husband had pretty much given her zero in the relationship department. Years of being taken for granted had finally reached a breaking point. She was angry—really angry. And she needed a place to vent.

As I sat there, I couldn’t help hearing in her diatribe some of the same mistakes I’ve made in my own marriage. As I told Barbara in a note the next day:

It made me realize how hard I’ve been on you from time to time. Pressuring.

Not appreciating your load and all that you’ve done for me. Not understanding your feelings.

To sit there and listen to a woman express her need for a husband to care for her, to dream with her, to think with her about her future and her soul, was like watching the last bit of light go out in her heart. It was more than just her anger. It was her whole countenance, her lack of radiance, her feeling of being “tired” of him. To think that a man could look into his wife’s eyes and not find a companion, a friend, a person who wants to be there with him, is a scary feeling.

But I know I’ve been self-centered at points, too, just like this man. And it wasn’t easy to hear again the hurt it can cause. I am sorry. Really.

When was the last time you came face to face with your own shortcomings?

When you realized that in the pressure and practice of daily living, you’d forgotten the value of some very important things? If that’s where you happen to be today—especially in your relationship with one another—it’s time to own up. Say you’re sorry. And maybe write your own letter.

DISCUSS

What do you most regret about the way you’ve treated each other—especially lately? Confess it now. And receive your best friend’s forgiveness.

PRAY

Thank the Holy Spirit for His convicting work in your life and for keeping your conscience sharp and painful when necessary.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 12/22

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DECEMBER 22

Me Too

I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. PSALM 51:3

I remember listening one night to a woman who told Barbara and me that she had finally had enough. She was right—her husband had pretty much given her zero in the relationship department. Years of being taken for granted had finally reached a breaking point. She was angry—really angry. And she needed a place to vent.

As I sat there, I couldn’t help hearing in her diatribe some of the same mistakes I’ve made in my own marriage. As I told Barbara in a note the next day:

It made me realize how hard I’ve been on you from time to time. Pressuring.

Not appreciating your load and all that you’ve done for me. Not understanding your feelings.

To sit there and listen to a woman express her need for a husband to care for her, to dream with her, to think with her about her future and her soul, was like watching the last bit of light go out in her heart. It was more than just her anger. It was her whole countenance, her lack of radiance, her feeling of being “tired” of him. To think that a man could look into his wife’s eyes and not find a companion, a friend, a person who wants to be there with him, is a scary feeling.

But I know I’ve been self-centered at points, too, just like this man. And it wasn’t easy to hear again the hurt it can cause. I am sorry. Really.

When was the last time you came face to face with your own shortcomings?

When you realized that in the pressure and practice of daily living, you’d forgotten the value of some very important things? If that’s where you happen to be today—especially in your relationship with one another—it’s time to own up. Say you’re sorry. And maybe write your own letter.

DISCUSS

What do you most regret about the way you’ve treated each other—especially lately? Confess it now. And receive your best friend’s forgiveness.

PRAY

Thank the Holy Spirit for His convicting work in your life and for keeping your conscience sharp and painful when necessary.  

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