Moments with You Couples Devotional 10/7



Seek God, Not Sin

Seek good and not evil, that you may live. AMOS 5:14

Over the next seven days, I want to walk you through what I call "the seven non-negotiables of life"—biblical benchmarks that are true simply because He is true.

We're familiar with some of the non-negotiables of our lives. For example, when we buy an automobile, we also get an owner's manual that outlines the maintenance schedule for keeping the car in good working order. If we follow the plan, we should enjoy many years of reliable use of the car. But if we maintain the car improperly, we can expect big trouble—and probably at a time when we least expect it and can least afford it.

The same is true in life. Depending on how we treat God's non-negotiables, they will either protect us or destroy us.

So . . . ready to go?

Non-negotiable Number One: Seek God, Not Sin

One of the great hymns of the Church that always strikes me with its profound truth is the song "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." The lyric from this hymn that probes at the deepest level of honesty and understanding is this line: "Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love."

Does that resonate with you as it does with me? Even when we are genuinely denying ourselves and experiencing nearness to Christ, we still know—deep down—that this never happens without a struggle. We are "prone to wander." O Lord, how we feel it.

This is why God steps out of eternity to tell us in His Word, "Seek good and not evil, that you may live." He is the life giver. And though our feet are indeed made of clay, our souls know that life is only found in one place—in Christ, in God, through the righteousness given to us at new birth.

Seek God, not sin. And live.


Share how you've "wandered" in the past. What is an example of how we are prone to seek sin rather than God?


Pray for one another that your hearts will seek God and that when you or your children do wander, it will not be a lengthy journey.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 10/4


Forgiveness for a Price

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 PETER 4:8

I don't know anything at all about what caused it, what led up to it or even what came of it. But I'm sure it was hard for people not to notice a full-page ad in the Jacksonville newspaper one morning that read: "Please believe the words in my letter. They are true from my heart. I can only hope you will give me the chance to prove my unending love for you. Life without you is empty and meaningless."

It was a full-page $17,000 advertisement and plea for forgiveness.

According to the ad's author, his wife of 17 years had left him two weeks earlier. She was living temporarily with her parents in a gated community, beyond the reach of her husband. Even her cell-phone number had been changed to keep him from contacting her. But relatives told him that she had indeed seen the large display ad and had left the room crying.

I pray that they were able to work things out. But—again, not knowing the circumstances—this still goes to show you that marriage, unlike any other human relationship, is the joining of two hearts into one flesh. The pain of living at a distance, even temporarily, feels like a limb being torn away. We can't think straight. We can't enjoy ourselves.

That's why your marriage must be a place where mercy and forgiveness are regularly being asked for and extended. Given, received and embraced. None of us are able to always be everything our spouse wants us to be. But only through the power of grace and forgiveness can you live through seasons of disappointment—with yourself and with one another—and come out feeling united again.

It might even save you $17,000 and even more heartache.


Is there anything between you two today? Anything that you need to ask forgiveness for . . . or forgive one another for . . . right now? Just do it.


Thank the Lord for His full forgiveness of us and for the ability to extend the same to each other.  


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Moments with You Couples Devotional 10/3


One Impossible Possibility

Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. COLOSSIANS 3:13

Are there things that someone has done to you that you think you could never forgive?

You are not alone. Ron Luce, president of Teen Mania Ministries, shares a story that many can identify with.

Ron came to faith in Christ as a teenager after enduring an abusive home life. Not long after his conversion, God began to convict him of his need to forgive his mom for the evil things she had done and said to him as a boy. Things like hitting him in the face. Crushing a cigarette butt out on his back.

Telling him when he was 13 years old, "Why don't you do me a favor and kill yourself?"

Initially, Ron reacted with typical human disbelief. How could he forgive his mom? She didn't deserve it. But in time, God broke through, and Ron decided he needed to forgive his mother.

So Ron started carrying around Scriptures on little cards—verses about forgiveness he could meditate on and memorize. He began desperately praying that God would give him the ability to give up his right to punish her. It wasn't easy, and it didn't happen overnight. But one day as a senior in high school, he remembers praying, "Lord, You need to reach my mom and touch her, because I love her."

He couldn't believe what he'd just said. "I love her?" He had never spoken those three words before in his entire life! "But I do love her. I do love my mom. And You're the One who put it there, Lord. You must have done it."

We can forgive, because He forgave us. He shows us a better way. A way of freedom from bitterness and punishment. Christ does it through us. And He can do it through you.


What impossible injustices—things you've grown weary of dealing with on your own—do you need to hand over to Christ? Make a list and ask Him to lead you to full forgiveness.


Pray for whatever He must do in you to free you to forgive.  


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Moments with You Couples Devotional 10/2


Up-Close Forgiveness

If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. MATTHEW 6:14

I am often reminded of what C. S. Lewis said: "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive." How true. It's not until forgiveness becomes personal and costly that it takes on its actual size and weight.

But perhaps some of what troubles us about forgiveness is that we don't understand what it is . . . and what it isn't. Forgiveness doesn't mean:

•Excusing what someone did to you
•Forgetting what happened
•Denying, or stuffing, your feelings
•Reconciling instantly every time

It does mean:

•Embracing the offender—Christ modeled forgiveness at its best when He forgave and welcomed back those who hurt Him the most.
•Being proactive—When Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34), He was forgiving people before they even asked for it.
•Surrendering the right to get even—The essence of forgiveness, especially in marriage, is letting go of our rights to punish and see justice done.

Forgiveness is evident when one spouse ceases to demand restitution for hurt feelings and wounded pride.

The other night when Barbara and I were praying together, I turned to Barbara and said, "Sweetheart, before we pray, there's something I need to ask forgiveness for." Then after some dialogue, the words "I forgive you" were spoken by Barbara. That's when you know your marriage is what it was meant to be—a relationship in which forgiveness can flow at the slightest offense.

Forgiveness is one of the most important qualities you must practice if your marriage is to become great.


Talk about the definition of forgiveness . . . surrendering the right to get even. Is there anything you need to ask forgiveness for?


Pray that God will show you both how to be aggressive in pursuing forgiveness and appropriately quick in granting forgiveness.  


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Moments with You Couples Devotional 10/1


Acid Relief

Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; . . . forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you. COLOSSIANS 3:12-13

A number of years ago, there was a person in my life who had hurt and wronged me, and every time his name came up, my stomach did a sort of little twist. I thought the problem was that this person never recognized how deeply he had hurt me. He never apologized. But the real problem was that I hadn't forgiven him. No matter what he had or hadn't done, God's expectation was for me to forgive him regardless.

Forgiveness is not conditional. It is a command of God—"just as the Lord forgave you." This means you stop blaming. You stop pouring on guilt, and you stop referring to the offense as a trump card to win an argument.

You may not feel like forgiving. But by an act of your will, you need to operate out of a spiritual mandate: To forgive a friend—or a spouse—means giving up the right to punish that person.

For some offenses, there may always be a twinge of pain involved that never goes away. But when you say, "I can't forgive you," what you're really saying is, "I choose not to forgive you. I'm hurt so deeply, I can't move to forgiveness." In some cases you may need to seek out a wise counselor to help you deal with your pain. But if you ever want your stomach to stop churning, you have to obey.

Marriage was designed by God to be the union of two forgivers who have been forgiven.


Now would be a good time to put this principle into practice. Whatever it is, whatever it was, look your spouse in the eyes and tell him or her, "I forgive you."


Our Lord knows this isn't easy. How well He remembers the cross. Lean on Him today, letting Him help you take this beyond words and into action. As you pray, open your hand as a symbol of releasing the punishment, and then take your spouse's hands in yours to signify your forgiveness.  

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