“And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse.” Malachi 2:13-15
Two good friends of mine, who are a couple, recently revealed that their marriage was in serious trouble. They wanted to seek my advice, so I listened to their problems. After understanding their situation, I realised that their problems were no different from what most married couples experience. Neither of them addressed these minor issues and, as time passed, their marriage deteriorated and those minor issues evolved into a full-blown crisis.
Both my friends are not believers and this is the biggest headache for me trying to help them. I had a hard time explaining the fundamentals of marriage without bringing in the author of marriage, our Almighty God (Genesis 2:24-25). When two people get married without God as a witness, there is very little implication except those of legality. This is why many non-believing couples choose to live together without tying the knot. They believe that if there is enough trust then the “piece of paper” is not really necessary. It may make sense but unfortunately when that trust is broken, as in my friends’ case, the worthiness of the marriage is taken away too.
Christian marriages are different. In Christian marriages, God is the witness of the marriage covenant, thus making it holy. The marriage is holy all the time, whether it’s a good or bad day. On good days we thank God for them, and on bad days, we run to God for strength to commit, courage to change, wisdom to comfort, and the ability to forgive. We do this even though it’s difficult because we know that He is the witness of our marriage covenant. These verses in Malachi tell us we will no longer be in God’s favour if we are not faithful to our spouses. That itself should be a pretty good drive for us to love our spouse faithfully.
Let’s make God the centre of our marriages by:
I have a confession: sometimes I play hide and seek. I know I’m not a kid anymore but I still feel the need to play this game. That’s right, I said “need.”
I don’t know about you but I can get distracted pretty easily. It’s a struggle I think we all share although I’ve noticed it a lot more in the last few years. Technology has become so prevalent in our lives that we’ve allowed buzzes and alerts to pop into our lives more than ever. Also, for some of us, these devices have become our “go-to” cure for boredom.
This little thing intrudes into my life more often than I’d like and it all started so innocently. Texting used to be hard to do, so I didn’t do it that much. I only had to make a few phone calls a day, so it wasn’t too much of a problem. But then… the smartphone explosion happened. All of a sudden, notifications were everywhere!
In just the time that I’ve been writing this, I’ve received a few Facebook messages, over a dozen emails, many random app notifications, and countless WhatsApp/text messages. Every single notification seems to demand and command my attention. Each one distracting me more.
Oh…wait a second…someone just walked into my office. Be right back…
OK, I’m back.
Where was I? Oh yeah… Hide and seek. Sometimes I feel the absolute need to play this little game:
I hide from the distractions and I seek God.
I turn off the phone, step away from the computer, go to another room, or even go outside. Anything it takes to hide from the “noise” of technology.
We see in Luke chapter 5 where Jesus gives us a great example. Even in the excitement of His early ministry, where He is healing people and news about Him is spreading, we read this great verse:
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
This shows us that Jesus would regularly remove Himself from a setting. Almost as if people were expecting or demanding Him to do something or be somewhere, and He would take a step back from the situation. Then, He would find a lonely place – but He was not lonely. He would be with His Father and He would pray. A time to focus His heart and mind on God, and restore and renew His spirit.
We need this. Not only to get away from the distractions but to centre ourselves with God. To have that time to be focused on our relationship with Him and renew our spirit. The notifications are coming in left and right. Let’s all take some time today to withdraw to a lonely place and be with God.
By the way, I’ve turned off many notifications, deleted apps, and set “do not disturb” intervals on my phone. I’m still a work in progress.
We will be listening to testimonies and lessons from God throughout 2017 today. Two Share Your Story videos and two live speakers will share about their walk with God as we look forward to 2018.
The Bible is full of inspiration. The Word of God brings comfort to the heart. It challenges us and wakes us up when we become complacent. The Bible is truly “living and active.”
This year, I found myself returning to the same bible verse time after time. This Bible verse is so special that I also committed it to memory so that I may recall it for mediation. Here is my Bible verse of the year 2017:
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalms 27:4)
I am a very logical person. I enjoy studying the logical aspects of faith and theology. Logical thinking helps me understand my faith.
But Psalms 27 is different. It captures my imagination in such a way that I can’t explain. It speaks to my heart, brings me peace, and calms me down. Psalms 27 opens up a dimension with God that surpasses my intellect.
It shows me that to fully understand God, I need to connect with God not just with all my mind, but also with all my heart – my emotion as well as my intellect. In short, I need to connect with God with my whole being.
By the way, do you know what is the best predictor of a person’s spiritual growth? The answer: a consistent personal reading of the Bible on a regular basis. Perhaps this can be your 2018 goal.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9–11
The holiday season is here, and many of us will give and receive presents of various sorts to celebrate Christmas. Some of those presents will be warmly received while others may be returned to the store (or at least that may be our wish).
Thankfully, my son is still of the age where he is excited about most presents that he is given. Observing his interest in trains, cars, Mickey Mouse, and other toys spark an almost endless array of gift ideas for my wife and I to surprise him with. It is such a joy to see his eyes light up and watch him play with his newfound treasures. Witnessing and being part of that dynamic has reminded me about God’s enthusiasm in giving gifts to us.
Matthew tells us that our Heavenly Father is just waiting for us to ask for gifts (Matthew 7:9-11). James declares a similar truth in stating that God is the giver of good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). So with such a simple formula, why does it seem that I often (and perhaps some of you can relate) do not receive what I ask for from the Lord? James answers that question when he reminds us that we also need to ask with correct motives and not out of selfish desires (James 4:3). While there are times I find it challenging and uncomfortable to honestly apply that test, James’ words serve as a helpful check and balance on the state of my heart.
What is on your wish list this year? Let us spend some time this Christmas season to: