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Faith of a Child, Part 2

Luke 1:39-45

39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

I pick up the story after Mary found out that she would have a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit.  So she was told by this angel that her relative, Elizabeth, was also with child.  What a miracle that would be to see!  So off to Judea Mary went to visit Elizabeth and to see for herself!  Elizabeth was having a baby after all these years!  How was that possible??

For nothing is impossible with God.

Oh, yes.Nothing is impossible with God.  As soon as Mary entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth, something amazing happened….Elizabeth AND her unborn baby realized that they were in the presence of the Lord’s mother.  How did they know that?  The bible tells us that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Not only did she know, her baby leapt in her womb.

Now, any of us who have had babies know that you can feel the baby move.  I am sure you felt your baby kick and tried to figure was it a hand or a foot that just got your rib cage.  But have any of you had a baby like my daughter?  I felt like I had a gymnast inside me at times.  Almost like Shawn Johnson doing summersaults inside me.  When I used to feel her inside me doing flips and turns and whatever else she was doing in there, I used to think of Elizabeth.  Was this what she felt when John leaped in her womb?  At that moment, Elizabeth knew a miracle was going to happen through Mary as well.  Mary hadn’t said a word, but Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Wow.Did you get the tone of that?  Mary didn’t have to worry about “my parents are gonna kill me!”…Elizabeth knew that God was going to do something miraculous through Mary, and she also knew that Mary believed what God said was to be true.

56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Have you ever felt so strongly like the Lord was telling you to do something, but everyone around you would pretty much try to shoot the helium out of your balloon?  What would you do?   You would go to someone who would support you…who would understand what you believe and why you believe it.  That is what Mary did.  A miracle had happened to Elizabeth, so she went to Elizabeth.  Who would believe her?  Who would still believe that she was a virgin carrying a baby?  What shame would be placed on her at home?  What would Joseph do?

But Mary had faith that the Lord had taken care of it all.  She was lifted up and strengthened my Elizabeth and Zechariah.  Her faith was not shaken.  She knew that God was on her side and He was in control.  Listen to this…

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”

Does this sound like the song of a desperate girl?  No. “ for the Mighty One has done great things for me— “

The Lord of all Creation can do mighty things for you, too.  For some of you this Christmas season might be a difficult one.  Maybe your spouse is a refuser….maybe you or your spouse dabble in pornography…maybe you’ve lost a loved one or a spouse.  The one thing I hope that you take from this story today is that the Mighty One can do great things for you, too.  He didn’t just do things for Mary.  He didn’t just do things for Elizabeth.  He will do great things for you, too.  He is the Great Healer.  He is the Abba Father that we all need.  Put your faith and trust in Him.  Let him fill your needs.  God sent the most awesome gift to you this Christmas.  Mary is carrying him in her womb in this story.  The Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, God, for all the great things you do for us, and thank you for sending your Son to save us all.


Faith of a Child: Mary, Mother of Jesus

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God.  Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

I bet this story from Luke 1:26-38 is one of the most well known stories in the Bible. Especially at this time of year, we’ll hear the plight of this young woman named Mary, whom God chose to be the mother of the Savior of the world. Can you imagine? Can you even fathom what went through this young girl’s mind during this entire scene? Let’s take this step by step and journey through this time and season with Mary.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

One of the first things we learn about Mary is that she is highly favored with the Lord. Mary was a woman that walked in faith already, probably followed God’s laws and decrees to the best of her ability. She was a sinner like we all are, but she followed God and obeyed him. And an angel of the Lord came to visit her. How many of you have been graced by an angel who had been to the throne of God and was sent to give you a message?

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Mary had probably been startled with the presence of this angel. I am sure that Mary knew well the stories of the Old Testament where God spoke to Moses, or through a prophet such as Elijah, but what did he mean by this? Why was he here?

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

That is a lot to take in for a young girl…..

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The woman of faith has doubt. Gosh, guys, we all on this website know what it takes to get pregnant….you gotta have sex! And if you are a virgin, that just isn’t going to happen, ya know? I mean…in that time period to be engaged to a man, to be found pregnant…that had some HUGE consequences. Women were married young to older husbands, their betrothals often being arranged in childhood. Being betrothed during this time period was seen like being married, so if she was pregnant, and it wasn’t Joseph’s baby, she was considered an adulteress.

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

The angel reminds her that God can do things that we mortal people know to be impossible. He tells her that her cousin, Elizabeth who was known to be barren, is also bearing a child. Considering Elizabeth’s age, this was a miracle in itself as well.

For nothing is impossible with God.

Nothing, dear one. Nothing is impossible with God. Do you think that it is impossible to fix your marriage? For nothing is impossible with God. Do you think that your marriage bed is in shambles beyond repair? For nothing is impossible with God. Do you think that you cannot let go of lust, adultery, pornography, or an other sin in your life? For nothing is impossible with God.

Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing. And to this, we should all reply just as Mary did… “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”

Thy will be done, Lord. Thy will be done. Is the Lord calling you to do something that you feel is impossible? In faith, just like Mary, call on the Lord and tell him “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Amen.

Now did it look easy for Mary after that? Known now to be an adulteress… her betrothed husband ready to set her free of the contract they had to marry…. It wasn’t easy. Some of the things God will ask us to do are not easy. Abraham leaving his home to follow God to some unknown land…not easy. Nehemiah rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem…not easy. Moses leading the people out of Egypt…not easy. But Mary had faith that God knew what he was doing in all of this, just like Abraham, Nehemiah and Moses. Thy will be done, Lord.

When you pray for help in your marriage or in your marriage bed, be ready, open and willing to what God will ask you to do. His way is always the best way. He may ask you to march around the walls of Jericho, and it may seem stupid, but it’s God’s way. He wants us to trust him in all that we do. He will not lead us astray. We do a good enough job of that anyway. I am hoping that these Bible studies will spark an interest in wanting to crack open your Bible and learn more. Allow God to speak to you through these ancient words. They are just as applicable today as they were in the days they were written.

Have faith.   Follow God.   Do His will.   May God bless you abundantly.

What We See in Each Other

I received this in my email box from Biblegateway’s “Devotions for Couples” and this really reminds me of my own marriage.  I thought I would share it with you.

1 Samuel 16:1–13

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to find a new king. When he got there, Samuel saw Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons. “Surely, he is the one God has chosen to be the next king,” Samuel thought. Evidently, like the previous king, Saul, Eliab was tall and striking. But Eliab was not the one God had in mind.

God warned Samuel not to assess people by their physical appearance. God reminded the old prophet that he doesn’t look at the outside; he looks at the inside. So each of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel, but God did not indicate that any of them was the man God had sent him to find. Finally, David, the youngest son, came in from the fields. Then the Lord spoke to Samuel, telling him this was the right one.

When we look at someone’s outward appearance, we often fail to see what God sees. This message was clearly illustrated to writer John Fisher when he was speaking at a seminar. “A couple came in late, and I could see that they were in love,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t help but notice the woman was very attractive, while the guy was a real nerd.

“What could she see in him?” Fisher wondered. From the outside, this couple didn’t look like a match. “Then I realized she was blind,” Fisher said.

“What did she see in him? She saw everything that was important in a person. She saw love. While another woman might not have gotten past this man’s unimpressive exterior, she was blind to that. She only saw his heart. Blessed are the blind, for they can see people as they really are.”

Like Samuel, we often make judgments based on what people look like. But God doesn’t use looks as his criteria. He evaluates people by what’s in their hearts. He sees their character, their faithfulness and their commitment to him.

During courtship, we can be charmed by someone’s good looks, attentiveness or flattery. All of that can be fleeting. Over the course of a marriage, the real person breaks through. Perhaps as your marriage ages, your spouse’s outward appearance starts to change. Your spouse grays, loses hair or gains a little weight. Perhaps the two of you fall into a rut, and the special treatment that marked your dating period begins to wane. That’s when we need to remember what the Lord said to Samuel about focusing on what’s in the heart rather than what’s physically noticeable.

The success of a marriage comes, not in finding who we think initially is the “perfect” person for us, but in our willingness to adjust to the real person we married.
Jennifer Schuchmann

Let’s Talk

  • What characteristics initially attracted us to each other? What qualities do we treasure most today?
  • The blind woman never saw her partner’s appearance. Like God, she only saw his heart. Would we rather have people look at our appearance or at our heart? Why?
  • What steps are we taking to improve our faith, our character and our commitment to God?

Conquering Regrets

This comes from a Couples Devotional study I received in my inbox from Biblegateway.com.  All credit for the italicized areas are directly from the devotional.

Genesis 19:1–29

“Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
Genesis 19:17

If only we hadn’t married so soon. If only we had more money. If only I had married Jake instead of John. Regrets in marriage are damaging. They keep our eyes fixed on the rearview mirror instead of on the road ahead. While reviewing the past and assessing what we’ve learned through mistakes can be a healthy exercise, regretting the past only serves to fuel discontentment and impede growth.

When Dan and I decided to close a three-year-old business, I struggled with regret. I had used up all of our nest egg to pursue a business venture I had believed in. When the business failed, I regretted so many decisions I had made, especially not listening to Dan’s advice along the way. My failure meant that we would be struggling financially again after having enjoyed several years of monetary comfort. Even though I knew God had walked us through this difficult time and taught us invaluable lessons, it was tempting to think, “If I hadn’t tried to start that new business, we’d be financially set right now.” Instead of keeping my eyes focused on God’s plan for my life, I chose to get stuck in my tracks with if-only thinking.

Lot’s wife had a similar problem. She and her husband were running for their lives from Sodom and Gomorrah, knowing that God had judged the culture they were living in and was about to decimate everything they had ever known. While Lot was running full steam ahead, his wife kept looking over her shoulder. Eventually, the distance between them became so great that Lot literally left his wife in the dust.

Regret is like that. We keep looking over our shoulder, wondering if what we’ve left behind might have been better than what we’re moving toward. God’s angel warned Lot and his wife not to look back, and it’s a warning for us too.

If you routinely catch yourself starting a sentence with “If only,” regret may be an issue you need to deal with. While dwelling on what might have been is never healthy, regret can be an important signal to stop and examine your emotions. For instance, if you catch yourself thinking, “If only I had married Jake instead of John,” it may be time to evaluate why John isn’t measuring up. In your private time with God, pray about the emotions you’re experiencing. Perhaps you’ll discover that your disappointment is springing from unmet needs. With these needs clarified, you can then have a forward-thinking conversation with your spouse about how to improve your relationship.

When I caught myself saying, “If only I hadn’t tried to start this business,” I realized that my fear of God’s inability to meet our needs in the future was driving my regret. Once I discovered that, I could stop looking to the past and begin focusing on a vision for what God might accomplish in our future.
Marian V. Liautaud

Let’s Talk

  • What, if any, regrets do either of us have in our lives?
  • What unmet need might those regrets indicate?
  • How might we use regrets to improve our relationship with each other? What do we need to entrust to God to move forward in our marriage?

It’s me, again!!  Here’s my approach to this article…. there is absolutely no point in “what if’s”   I used to play that game with myself when I was younger…. What if I had never moved to the Metroplex in my mid-20’s?  Well, if I hadn’t moved to the Metroplex, I would have never gotten the job I had… which means I would have never moved here…. which means I would have never met my husband…. which means I would have never had my kids…. which means I would have probably dated more dead end losers …. see where I am going with this?  It can drive you crazy.   Any time I catch my mind going here, I remember the first time I heard God tell me, “So what?  All of these things made you who you are today.  All of these choices were made with Me right by your side.  Nothing happens in your life today that I have not seen.   I will be with you always.”    Just like Lot’s wife should have learned, there is really no point in going back and living in the past with all your what if’s.   My Dad used to tell me growing up not to second guess my decisions in life…. He used to say “at least you made a decision” which in itself can be hard sometimes!  We learn so much from the decisions we make and it affects our future.  I’d like to think that I have learned from the past and choose to make better decisions now, and I am thankful that I have the Lord to lean on and the smartest husband in the whole wide world to walk by my side as my teammate in life on all the decisions we make.   So, don’t let yourself be frozen into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife.  Put one foot in front of the other with your spouse and lean on the Lord.

~Spicy~

Q&A: Is Spicy Sex in the Bible?

This is an email we received from someone who found our blog.

“God intended married sex to be spicy. OK, but where in the Bible did He say that?
Sorry but coming up with your opinion and then attaching God’s name to it doesn’t mean God is attached to it.”

Oh, where do I begin…

Well, let’s start with the Bible. Does the Bible say that God wants married sex to be spicy? In the very beginning this is what God said about married sex.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2:24-25

Our first reference in the Bible to married sex is that we would separate from our birth families and unite as one with our husband or wife; unite physically and relationally. God desired that a husband and wife have no shame between them in the most vulnerable of situations; nakedness. Adam and Eve had freedom to explore and enjoy one another without shame, and this did not surprise God. He created them naked in the garden with all their sexual parts in full function. Can you imagine how great it would have been to be naked all the time, in the sun with your husband and not have to carry any emotional baggage? They didn’t work, so they weren’t tired. They walked around all day enjoying the Lord’s creation, chatting without the distraction of a phone ringing or an email coming in. They had all the time in the world to connect emotionally and physically, and they were still without sin. What ideal circumstances for which to build a passionate love life.

Further, if we step out of this story and into another, the Song of Solomon is an incredibly erotic and passionate love story. In this book of the Bible we look at the marriage of Solomon and his bride. Specifically we look at how they relate sexually. After the bride and groom in the story have had a sexually charged encounter this is what is written, believed to be the only time that God speaks out in the book:

Eat, O friends, and drink;
drink your fill, O lovers.

Just as God was pleased with the unity of Adam and Eve, so was He pleased with this union. He encourages the lovers to take pleasure in one another. He wants them to enjoy their sexuality as much as they can. In the Song of Solomon, we find that the couple enjoyed a wide variety of pleasures. The specifics of what they enjoyed are not as important as the fact that they had the freedom and confidence to express their desires, and to meet those of their spouse. They most certainly had a spicy marriage bed.

Perhaps it would be helpful to pause here and explore what it means to have a spicy marriage bed. It doesn’t mean that everyone has hot, steamy, intense sex every day, twice a day, doing everything that is talked about on our website. It means that your sexual encounters with your spouse, whatever they look like for you, are intentionally focused on growing in passion. A spicy marriage bed is where you can be honest about your desires and trust that your spouse is a safe place for you. A spicy marriage bed is one where you desire to meet the sexual needs and passions of your spouse and they yours. Husbands and wives who have impassionate love lives are really missing out on the beauty of God’s plan for our sexuality. This is why it is such a terrible and damaging sin for a husband or wife to withhold their passion. It robs their spouse from expressing a desire that God put in them.

We haven’t attached God’s name to our opinion about sex. We look to Him to guide us into how He regards sex and we submit what we know to His Word. For many years many of us lived under many lies, but we are on a journey with the Lord and our husbands to fully embrace who God made us to be. We don’t claim to have arrived at perfection, but we have caught a glimpse of where our marriages are going and are fill with hope at the thought of what amazing thing God could do with two lives submitted to Him, united to each other.

original article

Make Me a Servant

One Sunday while at church listening to a message from Philippians, my mind started to wander a little bit to the blog here.   Not only was it a good message for any Christian, but it would really work well in the our marriages as well.   Here is the passage I am referring to

Philippians 2:1-5

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Now, Paul wrote this letter to the Philippian church while he was in prison, so “make my joy complete” is talking about him since he started the church there in Philippi, but let’s look at these verses and a few others with a little twist.

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, As Christians, we should have joy and encouragement with Christ as our head.

if any comfort from his love, Jesus’ love for us paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.  In that, I take great comfort

if any fellowship with the Spirit When the Holy Spirit indwells us upon our salvation, we should feel a deeper sense of fellowship with Christ since he lives within us.

if any tenderness and compassion As a Christian, don’t you see things in a different light?  Don’t you tend to look on others with more compassion than when you were a nonbeliever?

2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Likeminded…like Christ, we should strive to love one another as Christ loved us, we should strive to be more like Christ in what we say and what we do, with the same purpose as Christ…to love and serve others.

3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

These last two verses are the ones that made me stop and think.  I was in the process of reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman at the time as well…why?  Because I didn’t know WHAT my love language was…go figure.   So there I was reading about all these married folks who don’t know why their marriage is falling apart….and it is because they are not speaking the same language…love language that is.   The purpose behind this book?  To teach you how to recognize the love language you speak and what your spouse speaks, and how to USE that knowledge to show love to your spouse.   To fill their love tanks.   Chapman asks the folks in his book to consider their spouse before themselves.   At that time,  I believed my husband’s love language is Words of Affirmation.  Now I believe that it is a combination of that and physical touch.   I try as much as possible to make sure he knows how much I appreciate what he does because he does A LOT in this household.   I had to drop my own “selfish ambition” in order to meet a need that he has.   I leave him notes on his Facebook page to publicly let everyone know how much I love and appreciate him.   I am turning into his biggest cheerleader.   Why?  To get rid of my own selfish ambition and to consider him over myself.    Yeah, it’s real easy for me to follow my own interests and needs, but Jesus wants us to go beyond that and put the needs of our husbands before our own needs.   Is that an easy job to do?  No, but it is SO worth it.   Not only do we make them feel good, but it feels good to do it, too.

Think about this….(Philippians 2:5-8)

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death-
even death on a cross!

What did Jesus owe you?   Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.   Yet, he voluntarily took on human nature and became a servant.   He was obedient to his own death.  A death he didn’t deserve, but he loved us that much.   Commit to serving the needs of your spouse.  Move toward sacrificing the things you want for the things your spouse wants and needs.   I need to try to take this challenge on more for my hubby.   Will you join me?

Falling Out of Love?

  She

 2 I slept but my heart was awake.
   Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
   my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
   my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe—
   must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
   must I soil them again?
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
   my heart began to pound for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
   and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
   on the handles of the bolt.
6 I opened for my beloved,
   but my beloved had left; he was gone.
   My heart sank at his departure.[a]
I looked for him but did not find him.
   I called him but he did not answer.
7 The watchmen found me
   as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
   they took away my cloak,
   those watchmen of the walls!
8 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
   if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
   Tell him I am faint with love.   (Song of Songs 5:2-8)

As a newlywed, you adored your husband and eagerly expressed your love to him. Then the honeymoon ended, and you probably started to take each other for granted. The responsibilities of life weighed you down so that you didn’t have the physical or emotional energy you once had to invest in your relationship. Like the woman in this poem, you have come to a crossroads and have a choice: Live with the loss of love or work to find that love again. The woman here passionately pursues her lover as if her life depended on it. Will you?

(Devotional from Biblegateway.com)