Moments with You Couples Devotional 2/17


A Dose of Truth

But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.

I remember when Barbara and I were concerned with the way our teenage son was handling money. Every time we brought up the subject, he became angry. One evening, I invited our son to go jogging. As we ran, I talked about how he was handling money. When anger began to surface once again, we stopped running and I put my arm around him and said, "You know what? As long as I'm your parent, God has called me to work in your life to develop your character in conformity to the Scripture and to encourage you to become a Christlike person. And right now, I'm called to help you deal with this issue.

I just want you to know that your mom and I are together on this subject. We've talked about this. We believe you've got a problem with how you're handling money."

I hugged him again and said, "I don't want to whack you up the side of the head with this. I want to appeal to you and to the Holy Spirit that God has put within your heart for you to yield to God and learn what needs to happen in your life so that you become conformed to the image of Christ."

We started jogging again. After our run, I suggested that we get a glass of lemonade and finish our conversation. To my amazement, my son smiled and said, "You know, Dad, I think I'd like to have that glass of lemonade with you." It's important to speak the truth in love to our children, but we need to do it with love and compassion. That gives us the ability to appeal to them so that they ultimately learn to yield their wills to Jesus Christ.

On what issues do your children need a dose of truth in love right now?

Ask God to give you the right combination of exhortation and love in order to speak to the hearts of your children. 

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Up Close and Personal


Up Close and Personal

Each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself. EPHESIANS 5:33 

Someone has said, "Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener." How true. You start marriage from a distance. Your honeymoon view is soft and fuzzy, filtered through a fine mist of warm feelings. Goose bumps. Everything appears to be perfectly put together. But the closer you get to one another, the more flaws you see.

If you were looking at me from across the room, there are some things you couldn't tell about me from that vantage point. You wouldn't be able to see that a childhood case of chicken pox left a noticeable scar on my forehead. You wouldn't notice the little nick I got right above my eyebrow from sledding into a fence when I was five years old.

Marriage is much like that, isn't it? The longer you are together, the more things you learn about this man or woman—this person you once kissed at a candlelit altar—that are not very pleasant, not too pretty. Marriage truly is the process of two selfish people learning to love one another in the midst of their imperfections.

For some, that's where divorce is born . . . if not actual legal divorce, then emotional divorce. But for you, it can be where love and commitment grow, as you draw closer and closer without rejecting the other or fearing rejection yourself.

That's what Jesus did when He saw you. Love motivated Him to move toward people who were unlovable. And in the ongoing experience of marriage, He gives you the opportunity to embody His kind of love each day, getting up close and personal, forgiving, persevering, growing in Christ by refusing to grow apart. In marriage, life is lived in very close proximity. You need Christ to love your spouse through you, despite your spouse's flaws, disappointments and weaknesses.

Admit two unlovable traits you know about yourself. Then thank your spouse for loving you anyway—for being patient as you fight to overcome them.

Lift your prayers of confession before the Lord right now. Then thank Him for His long-suffering and for giving you someone to exemplify love right before your eyes.  


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Keep Going


Keep Going

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. LUKE 14:27 

We don't talk a lot about cross carrying. That's more the fine print of being a follower of Christ—the part we don't generally go around advertising to those we're hoping to draw into Christian faith. But as I understand Jesus' words in Luke 14:27, you and I cannot truly follow Him unless we are carrying a cross. The cross is not just a popular piece of jewelry but also a unique Christian symbol that represents suffering and sacrifice. So it is with the cross He has asked you to carry. Your cross will undoubtedly extract pain and a price.

Cross carrying is not a one-time decision. No, we must choose daily to pick up our cross, again, and follow Him. We are to continue carrying it over the long haul. Do you know what your cross is? Think with me for a moment. When the Savior asks you, "Pick up your cross and follow Me," what exactly is it that He is asking you to carry?

Is your cross:

•A chronic health issue—physical or emotional?

•Giving up fame, prestige and popularity?

•Giving up material wealth, financial security and living a lifestyle that you've become accustomed to?

•The loss of a dream—infertility, a past divorce, infidelity or the betrayal of a friend? The bottom line? Cross carrying represents death. Death to the easy way— the world's way. Death to desires. Death to self. Cross carrying demands focus on Christ (see Hebrews 12:1-3), coming after Christ with faith (see Hebrews 11:6), and perseverance. Keep carrying your cross—through the balance of the work week, through the long months of a family crisis, through the hard-fought seasons of moral struggle.

Keep carrying your cross.

What does carrying your cross mean to you right now? What cross has God called you to carry right now as you follow Him?

Pray that you won't rebel against what God is asking of you but that you'll submit willingly to His claim on your life and pick up your cross and follow Christ.

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 2/8


One of a Kind

We are . . . created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

At the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, they give you a map to find your room—and believe me, you need it! The place is so big that the glass ceiling in the atrium is the size of six football fields.

The hotel's exotic plant collection, which takes 20 full-time gardeners to maintain, includes an Asian banana tree . . . right in the heart of Tennessee! This unusual tree grows only one crop of bananas its entire life. Then the team of gardeners cuts it down and plants another.
How interesting that God in His wisdom would create a tree designed to serve just one short-term purpose. Unlike trees that bear fruit annually, the Asian banana tree has a unique calling. Your family also has a unique calling. You have been set apart by God to fulfill your own purpose. There are certain values and priorities that define who you are—certain goals you've been created to achieve. These guide the way you spend your time, money and energy.

Can you articulate God's purpose for your marriage and family? One of His purposes for Barbara and me has been to equip marriages and families with God's blueprints. In addition, Barbara and I have found that some of His purposes change as we move through the different seasons of a family. When we had children at home, it was clear that one of our purposes was to train them to know God and equip them to obey Him in life.

God does have a unique purpose for each of you as individuals and for the two of you as a couple. I encourage you to talk and pray about these purposes together.

Looking back over the direction of your lives, taking note of your convictions and those things that you are passionate about, what do you think are a couple of God's purposes for you as a couple?

Pray for wisdom, unity of spirit and the tenacity to stay true to your calling, no matter what other families act like or expect. 

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