Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/31

July 31

Prayer Around the World

I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men. 1 TIMOTHY 2:1

In November 1970, at the height of tensions in Vietnam, a pair of college students launched a campaign to bring awareness to the plight of American POWs and MIAs. Their plan was to create inexpensive metal bracelets, each bearing a soldier’s name and the date of his capture, and distribute them across the country as reminders for the average citizen.

Sharon Denney, now a 40-something college admissions counselor, remembers sending off her $2.50 for one of those bracelets in the early ’70s. Hers was etched with the name of First Lieutenant Ralph Galati, whose Air Force jet had been shot down in North Vietnam. Galati suffered through a year-long ordeal of torture and deprivation, including more than two months of solitary confinement.

But back in her hometown of Morrow, Georgia, young Sharon Denney was praying for Galati—for his safety and for his release or rescue.

Many years passed before Sharon came across her POW bracelet again while going through some things in her parents’ home. A few Internet searches and phone calls later, she had not only learned of Galati’s release in March 1973 but had also found his home phone number. And when she was finally able to make contact with him, the former POW told her that she was one of more than a hundred he had heard from over the years—men and women, boys and girls, who had worn his bracelet, had remembered his suffering and had
prayed, prayed, prayed for their prisoner soldier.

Prayer knows no boundaries of time or space, no limits of age or distance. Prayer is simply our link to the heart of God and to people’s lives all over the world. Never underestimate what prayer can do in the short run or the long haul. Don’t give up. Keep praying.

DISCUSS

Why don’t we pray more as individuals and as a couple? Who have you been forgetting to pray for?

PRAY

Take turns bringing some requests before God today for people who seem to be facing impossible situations. 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/30

July 30

Rootless Religion

These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you. PSALM 50:21

A Christian leader told me about boarding a small commuter plane for a short flight out of Nashville. Moments after he settled in, a flight attendant’s voice came on the loudspeaker and said, “When the pilot steps onto the plane, I want you to clap for him. He just found out his fiancée is expecting twins.” When the captain appeared, the passengers erupted into a raucous ovation. My friend sat there thinking, I can’t believe it. We’re applauding immorality.

This is in a country where reliable research tells us that nearly 85 percent profess to have some kind of religious convictions, and 90 percent believe there is a God. But it’s also a country where a solid majority personalize religion with little regard for the need to submit themselves to any kind of accountability or authority. In essence, everyone does what is right in their eyes (see Judges 17:6).

We’ve become a nation made up of very small humans playing God. As a result, many people treat religion more like a hobby. It’s a free-flowing, do-as-you-please, spiritual smorgasbord where they pick and choose what they want, when they want it. A little dab of truth here, a little dab there. But never too much truth. As someone has said, “God created man in His own image; then man returned the favor.”

It is time for us as Christians to clean up our own house, to let the Bible’s truth become not just our standard for belief but also our standard of behavior, both personally and in our families. Then we must take it a step further, calling those around us to the good news of Jesus Christ and exhorting those who know Him to internalize, apply and proclaim His life-giving message.

The future of your family and our nation depends on it.

DISCUSS

Try to define a practical step you could take to influence your sphere for Christ. What is one need you could embrace as your spiritual calling?

PRAY

Humble yourselves before the face of God, and ask Him for the spiritual reformation of your family and our country.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/29

 

July 29

I’ll Protect You

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. JOSHUA 1:9

One day during Rebecca’s first year of junior high, she came home from school with an unusually unhappy look on her face. Some boy had been making ugly remarks about her figure (or more precisely, her lack of one).

“What’s this guy’s name?” I inquired. She told me what it was. “What’s his phone number?” I asked. “Sounds like we need to have a little man-to-man chat.”

When the boy’s father answered the phone, I told him I needed to talk to his son. I said I wasn’t going to be mean, but he had been making derogatory comments about my daughter and I wanted to tell him that such comments are inappropriate.

“Okay, here he is.” (I could just imagine the look on this young man’s face as the phone receiver came his direction.) “Hullo?” he said in that teenage monotone. “Hello, I’m Mr. Rainey. Rebecca’s dad. From school. She came home today telling me about some things you said about her body, and I just wanted you to know I don’t appreciate it. This is not the way to treat a young lady, and I’d like you to respect her dignity enough to stop teasing her about the way she looks. You understand?”

That was it. Didn’t take long. I remember it took some courage to make the call, but I just remember Rebecca standing there beaming. And though I’d like to think it made a statement to the young man on the other end of the line, I know for a fact it made a statement to my daughter.

She saw the way a man is supposed to protect a woman, the way a dad is supposed to protect his little girl. How will they know if they don’t see us doing it?

DISCUSS

Do you think I did the right thing? Name some issues where, as parents, you need to step in, protect and be strong for your children.

PRAY

Ask God to keep you alert and wise to what’s happening in your children’s lives and hearts. 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/28

 

July 28

I Was Just Thinking

I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. PSALM 63:2 

Where is your place to ponder?

Maybe it’s a certain chair in a quiet corner of your home. Maybe it’s the back deck at sunrise or under the porch light after dark, with only the rhythmic hum of the crickets to disrupt your quiet. Maybe it’s a nearby creek or a nice place to walk or jog. Maybe it’s a garage workshop or a cozy cafe.

Or maybe it’s nowhere. Maybe you and a “place to ponder” aren’t seen together in the same spot very often.

Over the years when I come home from work or when Barbara comes home from her many errands, we take one another by the hand after dinner and sneak out for a walk. (With six kids you have to be a sneak sometimes. We did this so many times, they knew where to find us!)

We’ll stroll through our garden beds, looking at what’s blooming at certain seasons of the year. The garden is hardly professional—it’s in constant need of repair and weeding. In fact, one of the problems with our place to ponder is that we often find ourselves pondering the work that needs doing out there.

But most important, it’s simply our time away from the needs of other people. You know, the phone and email and all the other interruptions. We may share something we’ve been thinking about. We may dial up a sweet memory.

We may stop and pray, or we may just walk along glad to be at home together.

If there’s one reason why marriages wither under the pressures and demands of daily life, it may be the lack of having regular times and places where we deliberately go to pray, share and regain perspective. It may be because we’re always puttering and planning and doing and moving from one place to the next but never stopping . . . and listening . . . and recharging . . . and pondering. Together.

DISCUSS

If you don’t have a “place to ponder,” where could it be? How could you make a habit of going there?

PRAY

Ask God to help you see the value of getting quiet before Him. 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/27

 

July 27

Don’t Hurt Me

One who is married is concerned about . . . how she may please her husband. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:34

What usually happens when you and your spouse get into a disagreement? If you’re like most couples—according to the research of Dr. John Gottman, professor emeritus at the University of Washington—the wife does six times the amount of fussing and scolding, and the husband is 85 percent more likely to be the one who goes into stone-wall mode.

But as Emerson Eggerich told our radio audience recently, it’s not merely the amount of the wife’s talking that pushes her husband into silence and rejection. It’s the way she talks.

To every wife reading this, I know that this just seems to confirm that every man is overly sensitive and not willing to deal with the truth. But Emerson, who has over two decades of experience helping couples, asks you to take this challenge: “After you’ve had a fight with your husband, go into the bathroom, shut the door and reenact your responses as best as you can in front of the mirror. Look at yourself and how you’re coming across. Is there any man in your husband’s world who talks to him that way? Is there anybody in his world who talks to him that way?”

Usually, all you have to do to avoid his stonewalling is to soften the tone, brighten the facial expression and control the pointing finger. You can pretty much talk to him all day long—even with deep, impassioned emotion—if you avoid berating, dismissing and emasculating him.

Men are typically able to handle negative content. We do it all day long. We just can’t easily handle it when it comes across with the volume turned up on contempt. The disrespect drowns out the message from being heard. If the goal is communication, the gateway to his heart is through respect, even when you don’t think he deserves it.

DISCUSS

Is this pattern true of your marriage? What makes you want to attack verbally? What makes you want to clam up?

PRAY

Pray that you will better understand how to communicate with one another with mutual respect.

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/26

 

July 26

The Holy Spirit

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. EPHESIANS 5:18, NIV

When I was a little boy growing up, I remember people in our church referring to the Holy Spirit as the “Holy Ghost.” For a long time I had this image in my mind of the Holy Ghost being something like Casper the Friendly Ghost, floating through walls like a puff of smoke.

I was also wrong about something else: I used to refer to the Holy Ghost as an “it”—as if He were some kind of impersonal machine or space alien. But the Holy Ghost that Jesus talked about is a living, active, personal being, sent to glorify Christ as well as to be our Counselor, Advisor, Advocate, Defender, Director, Encourager and Guide.

If you are interested in living life the way Jesus promised—and if you want a marriage where the two of you are growing spiritually—then a good understanding of the Holy Spirit is vital. Being “filled with the Spirit” is not just a suggestion but a clear command of Scripture. What Paul wrote to the Ephesians in the above verse means being controlled by Him in much the same way that alcohol controls a person’s mind and actions.

When we’re angry with each other about something, for instance, being filled with the Spirit enables us to control our tempers and impatience. He keeps us from saying things we’ll later regret. He battles the selfishness within us, bringing our hearts under His authority and bending our wills to God’s.

We don’t always let Him win, of course. We still fail Him far too often. But every time we submit ourselves to His control, He grows in us the character traits that please Him and bless our spouses. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

DISCUSS

What have you learned about the Holy Spirit? How much of your understanding of Him has been inaccurate over the years?

PRAY

Pray for hearts that are constantly cleaned and confessed, leaving ample room for the Spirit to dwell in.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/25

 

July 25

Are You Really Bible Based?

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. JOHN 15:1

This may seem like a shocking thing to say, but I firmly believe that most Christian marriages are actually patterned after the world, with a few threads of Christianity woven in. Couples know certain Bible verses, but few really practice the Word of God and use it as the defining standard for their lives.

Here is a litmus test: Could you lead a group of couples through a Bible study for several hours on what the Scriptures have to say about marriage and family issues—everything from raising children to God’s blueprints and purposes for marriage? Most churchgoers couldn’t last more than a few minutes.

But the very fact that you’re reading this book today at all is a testimony to your desire to know more of God’s Word and apply it to your lives. If you want your marriage to become all that God intended, then I hope this inspires you to keep digging deeply to His truth and let it become the “source” of your lives together.

Jesus painted the picture when He declared Himself the vine, with us as the branches. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). The word “abide” here is used to describe drawing the source of life from Jesus, like a branch draws its life from the vine. It means to make Jesus Christ and His Word the source of your convictions, decisions and mission in life. Just as branches draw their nutrients from the vine, so too we are only able to grow spiritually when we’re firmly attached to Christ, drawing our life from the source of all truth.

DISCUSS

Talk honestly about your values, convictions and mission. How much are these shaped by abiding in Christ and His Word? Talk about how you can help one another do a better job of abiding in the Word.

PRAY

Pray for one another that you will grow spiritually together as a couple by abiding in Christ.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/24

 

July 24

Islands of Clarity

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. PSALM 27:13

Barbara and I have long enjoyed the benefits of carving out time together as a couple. It was something we committed to early in our marriage. Even with six kids and all the natural activity that ensued, we pretty much stuck to our guns, and everybody reaped the benefits.

For us, these became islands of clarity—stolen moments when we chose to set aside the rush, distractions and noise of life long enough to reflect and hear from God. Here are three tips for finding uninterrupted time to help you regain perspective in the midst of the family circus:

Do it daily. The mere fact that you’re reading this book tells me you understand your need for at least a few minutes each day to square up and seek the Lord together.

Do it weekly. I’ve been telling people for years about Barbara’s and my selecting Sunday night as our sacred time to grab a booth at our favorite cozy little restaurant, The Purple Cow, and sync up our schedules. We have seen God supply answers as we talked about the children’s school needs, various discipline issues, major purchases and other elements of our marriage relationship.

Do it twice a year. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but we found that squirreling ourselves away without the kids helped us clear our heads and renew our sense of partnership and purpose. Many couples use the Weekend to Remember as an annual getaway to refresh and refuel their relationship.

Marriage often resembles a shootout between Siamese twins—two people joined together at the hip but fighting to control the direction they go. Islands of clarity are good places for the two of you, not just to sign peace treaties, but also to chart a course for the future and build romantic fires as well.

DISCUSS

What has been your favorite getaway as a couple? What made it so memorable? Schedule your next one.

PRAY

Pray that God will help you never to lose the ability to set aside some time away together as a couple to seek Him and one another.

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/23

 

July 23

Kinder and Gentler

What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness? 1 CORINTHIANS 4:21

Ellie Kay, the wife of an Air Force pilot and the author of Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America’s Military Families, reveals what can sometimes happen when her husband, Bob, returns from a turn of military duty. After months of flying and fighting and barking commands, he is often still in a giving-orders mood when he re-enters civilian life. That’s when Ellie uses a little code phrase to bring him back to her world: “K and G.”

Kinder and gentler.

It’s a signal to her husband, who likely doesn’t even realize how harsh his words may sound, to throttle back. To tone it down. Save it for his subordinates. We all know you don’t have to be a soldier in uniform to bring home a military manner at the end of the day. You can be in a business suit, casual pants or coveralls and still treat your wife as though she’s just another item on your checklist, just one more employee needing a grade on her efficiency. It can work the same for women who work outside the home.

Like Bob, we often aren’t aware that we’re doing this. We’re still in our office or job mode without realizing we’ve left it on. If our wives confronted this attitude, would we listen? Would we respond?

My suggestion is to find a spot along your usual way home—some recognizable milestone or visual marker—to remind you that it’s time to shed the necktie and get ready to meet your wife. Leave the workday behind someplace where you can pick it up again tomorrow. And go home ready to love and listen, not to push and prod.

Be K and G.

DISCUSS

How often do you bring the pressures and attitudes of work home with you? How do they manifest themselves at home? Talk about how you can remind one another to be K and G.

PRAY

Instead of bucking your mate for confronting a bad attitude in you, thank the Lord for putting someone in your life to help you be more like Christ. 

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 7/22

 

July 22

A Use for Our Refuse

But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. 2 CORINTHIANS 1:6

What do you have that could be of benefit to others?

That’s the question you may ask yourself every time you go exploring through your attic or garage. You realize how much you tend to keep and accumulate, even when your need for these items has long subsided. Often the stuff you find crammed deep into your closets isn’t even worthy of charitable donation. It’s just junk, better thrown out with the garbage.

But when it comes to the junk in your own personal life—the mistakes you’ve made, the poor judgment you’ve exercised, the hurt you’ve caused each other—God may have a purpose for it even still. Over the years, I’ve challenged many couples to step forward as mentors. But they have their own reservations and excuses. Many feel they just aren’t qualified. They say they have nothing to share with younger adults. They don’t think they know the Bible well enough.

Many of them are simply haunted by their own mistakes—their own junk. They don’t realize that those mistakes may be among the most valuable tools they possess in teaching a younger couple about how to grow a marriage and family God’s way.

Everyone struggles with marriage and family issues. Everyone. That’s why the core curriculum for learning how to minister to other couples includes the textbook of true-life experience. Weakness and disappointment provide some of our best resources for sharing life messages with others. They provide both content and context to our instruction.

You see, it’s not junk if somebody else can use it. The only way it becomes a waste is if we’re afraid to admit we’ve still got it, if we’re unwilling to let God use our garbage for His glory.

DISCUSS

Talk honestly about some of the mistakes you’ve made. Have you seen any good come from them?

PRAY

Pray that God would open your heart of compassion so wide for another couple that you wouldn’t let anything hinder you from helping them.  

 

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