★ Re|Engage – Completion ★

ReEngage - Lesson 15Well we are in the final stretch!  The last two lessons are on Completion and Diligence.  Throughout the series of posts we have been talking about the importance of applying everything we are learning.  My daughter has this quote on the lock screen of her iPad and I thought about what a profound statement it is…

“God’s Word is like a can of paint…it’s value is in its application.”  Steven Furtick

It reminds me of James 1:22-25:

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

If you don’t apply the knowledge that you hear than you will never grow and your marriage will become stagnant.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

The reading focused on this Principle:  Embrace Oneness.

The main idea of Lesson 15 was:

“Part of God’s design in marriage is to use your spouse to conform you into His image. You need to allow your spouse to partner with you in spiritual growth.”

Have you ever thought of marriage from that perspective?  That your spouse is there to help you become more like God?  I love how lesson 15 started off with this quote,

“Reformer Martin Luther once said that he learned more about what it means to be a follower of Christ in a marriage then he did in a monastery. In a monastery, one can isolate. But in marriage, there is no place to hide.”

Amen??  “There is no place to hide.”  Sooner or later the ugly sides of us are going to come out.  But as they said in the reading…

“Your spouse is to complete you in a way that no one else can and encourage your spiritual growth through their unique role in your life.”

“Previous lessons have pointed out that the goal of marriage is oneness, discussing both physical and emotional intimacy. Oneness is also to include spiritual intimacy, and one of the primary ways to promote spiritual oneness is to partner with your spouse in their spiritual growth.”

They asked this question in the reading, How do you help your spouse become more like Christ?  When I first read that question, it took me by surprise because I don’t know if I ever really thought about helping my spouse become more like Christ consciously. But I like what, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV) says…

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”

“This passage is talking about how to help four different groups of people, but both you and your spouse often will need the same four things.”

Admonish the Idle.

“There are times when the most loving thing you can do is to help your spouse see their own sin.

Another way to say it is to help them see the blind spots that they have…Those areas that they are not realizing they have a problem…could be working too much, drinking too much or not making your marriage a priority.  This me seem like “Circle infringement,” but keep in mind the council that they offered in the book,

“Admonishing always needs to be done in love and humility.”

I know that we have really emphasized the need for you to “draw the circle around yourself and work on everyone inside,” but this is the point in your journey that you and your spouse start to have overlapping circles…And if you allow the overlap, then God can really use them to help mold you into the person that He intended you to be.

Encourage the Fainthearted.

There will be times when they are fully aware of their shortcomings and are trying to work on issues. Praise your spouse for their efforts, regardless of how small they may seem to you.  Praise them for successes!  Try to overlook the small offenses.

“Pointing out small ways they are changing and growing is motivating and is a great way to help your spouse become who God intended them to be.”

Help the Weak.

“Sometimes your spouse will need more than truth and encouragement; they will also need your tangible expression of support.”

Be Patient with Them All.

“Change in people generally occurs over time. If you are being honest with your spouse, encouraging and helping them along the way, then continue to do so as you pray and wait to let God bring about the change.”

Did you catch that last part?  “Then continue to do so as you pray and wait to let God bring about the change.”  We MUST pray for our spouse and be patient as God moves in their hearts.  Patience one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that can be really challenging sometimes but I think it is one that if we master it, we will reap the rewards in our marriages!

“Helping someone grow will always be difficult, but there is no greater joy than having a front-row seat to life-change.”

This is so true!!  It may be difficult but oh so rewarding!  One of my favorite quotes was,

“Authors Gary and Betsy Ricucci said, ‘One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!”

I never thought of my spouse that way before this class, but that description is dead on!

“The 24/7 spotlight that marriage puts on your life will fully expose who you really are.  You can pretend at work and with your friends, but your quirks, sin patterns and selfishness will become fully exposed to your spouse overtime.”

We heard this quote in Lesson 8 but it is worth repeating… Author Gary Thomas asked this interesting question that I will pose to you…“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”What do you think of that?

“The challenge is to see marriage primarily as a way to become more like Christ by helping you to become a serving, forgiving and more patient person.”

You could look at it this way, Marriage is the vehicle to humbleness.

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Diligence ★

Or if you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here . . .

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Silencing the Noise ★

A little over a year ago I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Why to Love Mornings ★ about how each day is a clean slate to start over and move on from past mistakes.  Today I want to explore why else mornings are important.  As you might expect, it has to do with God.  Our church has been going through a devotional call “Pathways” by Russ Barksdale, (click here to download the first 2 chapters,) in it he said,

“The God of the universe called me into a love relationship with Him and He is not satisfied with surface stuff.”

When you think of a relationship, what is the foundation?  You may say getting to know the person, or spending time with them, or having shared interests in common.  And I would agree with you that all are critically important, but I think that communication is the most important aspect of a healthy relationship…not just for information exchange but as a vehicle to grow closer to one another.  The same is true with a relationship with God.  Some of you reading this may know exactly where this is going, but the answer for others may seem unnatural or unknown…the answer is a quiet time with God in which you read the Bible, pray, journal and listen for God to speak to you.  God is “not satisfied with surface stuff.”  That statement led the men in our lifegroup to discuss this issue…the this question was asked and I want to pose it to you…

If time spent pursuing God = time spent loving God, how much do you love God?”

He responded that “apparently not very much”…Knowing him as I do, that response is him being way too hard on himself.  The question is one, I think we don’t just answer once, but should respond to daily because I think if we are honest; every one of us could answer the same as my good friend.  Another member of our group responded that you need to look at the definition of pursue, which is…

To follow; to go or proceed after or in a like direction. 

He continued on saying that the,

“Bible says if you Love Me you will keep my commandments.  

Everything we do and say, or don’t do, and don’t say, throughout the day shows God, and the World that we are pursuing God and that we Love God.  

Keeping commandments = Love for God….this is the pursuit!!!  

I love that so much, a quiet time with God is a pivotal component of pursuing God.  Back in 2010, I had a conversation with the Men’s pastor at Gateway Church, Todd McIntyre that changed my life.  Besides helping me to see the need to reconcile my relationship with my estranged father, who later accepted Jesus as his savior as a result of our conversations, (you can read more about this from the ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★,) Pastor Todd also opened my eyes to the need for a quiet time and to develop a spiritual discipline of a daily time with God.  Within the 3 part series that he preached where he said:

86 - Daily Dependence - Todd McIntyre - Spiritual Maturity
“You cannot have maturity unless you have perseverance in your life and you’ve gone through some pain.  God cares more about our maturity then He does about your happiness.”  Todd McIntyre

86 - Daily Dependence - ClockFor me I have found that starting my day pursuing God is.  I am not naturally an early riser, but I found that unless I set that time with him the start of the day, something else always would get in the way.  There’s so much in life that will keep us too busy to read the Bible.  So much in life that will distract us from praying.  So much in life that will push aside the time to journal.  So much in life that will drown out the voice of God!

The purpose of the quiet time is to silence the noise and center your life God and getting to know who His Son Jesus Christ!

Rising early to spend time with God has always been influenced by what Mark 1:35 (NASB) describes of Jesus’ own disciplines.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” 

Mark 1:35 has always been a rallying call to me to push through the fatigue of getting up early.  As I wrote about in the previous post (★ Thought for the Day – Confidence IN WHOSE You Are ★), King David was a man after “God’s own heart,” in Psalms 5:2-3 (NLT) he said,

“Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you.  Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD.  Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”

Jesus rose early and King David met with God in the morning, so I too choose that time of day as well and wait expectantly for Him to speak with me.  I don’t tell you this to impress you or show off but to motivate you to carve away a piece of the day for God, away from the hustle and bustle and noise.  It does not matter what time of day that you spend time with Him, just that you do.  Oftentimes people find it hard to put aside the time to do it and so when they don’t, Satan comes in to condemn us.  Part of the exchange with the men, was this quote from Rick Warren,

“Jesus doesn’t want to condemn you; He wants to change you.  He wants you to know him and he wants you to love him as much as he loves you.”

What a powerful statement and truth which reminds me of a Sonicflood song that was popular when I first was saved, called “I want to know You”…

“I am reaching for the highest goal86 - Daily Dependence - sonicflood - I Want to Know You
That I might receive the prize
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside
Out of my way
Cause, I want to know You more

I want to know You
I want to hear Your voice
I want to know You more
I want to touch You
I want to see Your face
I want to know You more”

The key for me, is to push through the fatigue when the alarm clock goes off, I need to get up and start the day off with God (and a BIG cup of Joe…aka as coffee for my southern brothers…Hahaha!)  I love this quote from Russ Barksdale,

“Jesus doesn’t want to condemn you; He wants to transform you.”

Our quiet time with God, getting to know Him, getting to know Jesus and what He taught in the Bible is intended to transform us.  We need to not allow Satan to get us down if one day or one week is not as good of a pursuit as the previous one, but just keep chasing after God.  (See Romans 8:1-2 as well.)  As I was reading Deuteronomy 17 that same morning as our group text occurred, I saw a parallel to what God commanded the king to do (see 17:18-20) and what our quiet time should be.  Reading the bible daily is not supposed to be drudgery, and certainly not intended to be out of compulsion, “oh I have to get up early and spend time with God,” rather it should be out of love with an attitude that “I want to get up early to make sure I spend time with God,” like the Sonicflood song so proudly declares.  So how about you?  Are you spending time chasing after God?  Are you building your life on Him?  If you are reading the bible, are you changing any behaviors?  Knowledge without application is pointless.  In the last exchange with my brothers in the lifegroup, this great point was made,

“I think what you get back in terms of revelation is the time you put in communion with Him whether early or late in the day.  Knowledge must transfer from the head to the heart, from belief to faith.”

“Knowledge must transfer from the head to the heart,” and a consistent quiet time every day, regardless of time of day, is the process by which that happens!  Martin Luther said,

86 - Daily Dependence - Martin Luther - What Prayer Is “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.”

That really captures the heart of God, as we seek God with all our heart, He will willingly open up the treasures of heaven and meet us there!  As I was discussing this Thought of the Day with my 14-year-old daughter, God spoke so clearly to me through our conversation.  She said,

“In order to silence the noise, you need to know ‘whose you are.’   And in order to know whose you are, you need to ‘silence the noise.'”

It is the great paradox, one which if we could grasp, our lives would be forever changed!!

If you want to read more about discipline, check out this ★ Thought for the Day – The Benefit of Discipline ★

Maybe you are reading this and not only have a quiet time, but you have never made the decision to follow Jesus, today you can change that today!  Check out our next post called ★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★ and if you are ready to make a decision today…

Below is a prayer you can pray to start your relationship, the words you say really don’t matter, there is nothing special about them, but the emotion and belief in your heart does.  Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins.  I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation (see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17!)  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life! 

Please contact me if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

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