Saturday, June 4, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Two Hundred Laughs

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

It’s been said that the average child laughs two hundred times a day, while the typical adult laughs only four times every twenty‐four hours. So what has happened to us grown‐ups? Maybe it has something to do with those grueling hours at the office, long lines at the grocery store, and piles of bills on the kitchen counter.

Of course, life can be very difficult, and some people face serious obstacles and hardships. But many of us frown or complain over relatively minor inconveniences. I (jcd) knew a woman who made herself and her husband miserable just because she had one more child than she had bedrooms in which to put them. Too many irritations come from a complete inability to appreciate the humor and blessings that exist around us. When your husband forgets to take the kids to their dentist appointment, or your wife accidentally gives away your favorite sweatshirt, or your toddler draws his version of the Mona Lisa on the living room wall—wouldn’t it be easier on everyone if you looked on the funny side of the situation?

Kevin Jones, dealing with increasing paralysis from Lou Gehrig’s disease, was asked to describe the worst thing about his condition. He replied, “My wife’s driving! She has to take me everywhere.”

No matter what you’re facing, a smile can only make it better.

Just between us…
  • How often do you laugh each day?
  • Do we keep our heavenly destination in mind when adversity strikes?
  • How could we add humor to the next difficult situation we face? 

Dear God, when problems threaten to affect how we treat each other, help us to see them in the perspective of Your unfailing goodness. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

NIV Devotions for Couples - Appreciating Each Other

Luke 24:1–35

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:31

My friend and her husband had been married for a few years, and though she still loved him dearly, the humdrum of day-to-day living had lulled her into taking him for granted. Sure, he was loving, steady and dependable, but the romance was gone.

Then at a yearly awards banquet at her husband’s company, my friend was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the accolades heaped on her husband. Superiors spoke of him in glowing terms. Coworkers gushed about what a great guy he was. Even the custodian made a point of telling her what a likable man her husband was.

My friend found herself swelling with pride—and a little shame—wondering why she hadn’t noticed this side of her husband. Did he act differently at work, or was she just not seeing what had been there the whole time?

Cleopas and his friend, who were walking to Emmaus two days after Jesus was crucified and buried, had a bit of the same problem. To be sure, they were depressed, tired and drained from what had happened in Jerusalem. A great teacher who had promised so much had been arrested, beaten, crucified and buried. Now his body was missing. Certainly they were not expecting that the man who joined them on the road was that very man—Jesus.

They didn’t acknowledge Jesus as Messiah either—likely because they were disillusioned that the one they had expected to deliver their nation from Roman rule was now dead. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people,” they said of Jesus (Luke 24:19). But they didn’t have a clue that he was Savior of the world.

As we read this, we want to cry out, “How could you not see Jesus as Messiah after all the wonderful things he did? And how could you not recognize him as he explained the Scriptures to you and your hearts burned within you?” (see verse 32) But until they broke bread with Jesus and the Spirit of God opened their eyes, these men were blind to Jesus’ true identity.

Isn’t that the case with many of us today, in both marriage and our walk with Christ? Seeing Jesus as a living, vibrant presence in our lives comes before anything else, of course. Only when our eyes are focused on him as our Savior can we begin to truly appreciate a spouse who also believes in Christ. When we study the gracious attitudes and actions that Christ pours out on his church—loving, caring, cherishing, submitting even to death—we ask ourselves, “How does my spouse show these same attributes to me and to others? Have I shown appreciation for those Christlike qualities being lived out in him? Am I being Christlike to him?”

It’s easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other’s strengths.

Let’s pray for open eyes before sickness, loss, separation—or accolades from others—force us to pay attention.

Valerie Van Kooten

Let’s Talk
  • What attributes in each other have we sometimes taken for granted that others have helped us see?
  • What qualities of Christ do I see working in you?
  • What are some ways we can keep our eyes open, keeping Christ the central focus of our marriage?

Standing Strong Through the Storm - LIVING TO PLEASE GOD – WITHOUT FEAR

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Today we share the testimony of overcoming fear from Sister Sarah in Bangladesh:

“I knew my husband since childhood. We grew up in same village and studied in same school. But his family was devoted to Islam; his father was a Muslim imam. Just imagine the disappointment when his family learned that he became a Christian! To leave Islam and marry me, a Christian girl, is to bring great shame to his family. It was like pouring more oil into the fire! His family plotted to kill him, but God save my husband from their hands.

“My in-laws blamed me and my parents for my husband’s conversion. My parents received lots of threats, finally forcing my parents to move to another place. Those days were very painful for me but my husband and I always prayed, ‘Lord help us stand firm in our faith.’ God would speak to my heart through His Word that He held me by His right hand… that I didn’t need to be afraid, because He was there to help (Isaiah 41:13).

“The first few years of my marriage were the toughest. We feared for our lives every night. During those years, we moved six times because of threat from my in-laws. After three years or so, my in-laws rejected my husband completely and they left him without inheritance. It was painful, but I also felt relieved, because that meant there would be fewer threats.

“When the tension lessened, I joined an organization that was working among disadvantaged women. I found joy in being with lots of people. I felt satisfaction in what I was doing, though it was for a secular company. Later on, however, it motivated me to pursue working with a Christian ministry. I began praying, ‘Lord I want to serve You by serving Your people. Would You please open a door for me and equip me for Your work?’

“God was quick to answer! In 2008, my husband and I enrolled in a Bible school abroad through the support of Open Doors. Throughout those four years of seminary training, God taught me to develop inner beauty through faith, obedience, courage, and prayer. I became more confident in introducing Christ to others, more supportive of my husband as he fulfilled his calling and potential, and more conscious of helping my children grow up as God-fearing persons.

“This year, we returned to our home country Bangladesh. My husband got an opportunity to serve God and His people through a Christian organization. Please pray that God will help me encourage my husband so that he remains faithful in his calling, raise my kids in a godly way, and obey His command to make disciples.” 

RESPONSE: Today I will thank God that He is with me and I do not need to fear anything or anyone!

PRAYER: Pray that God’s promises will sustain Sarah and her husband in living for God without fear in their new ministry.

Verse of the Day - June 04, 2016

1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV) Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

Read all of 1 Chronicles 29