Saturday, June 11, 2016

Night Light for Couples - The World’s Most Opposite Couple

“We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:29

Authors and counselors Chuck and Barb Snyder describe themselves as the “World’s Most Opposite Couple”—and it may be true. Chuck says the only things they have in common are the same wedding anniversary and the same children. He’s driven; she’s laid‐back. She enjoys soft classical music; he prefers country western at maximum volume. She’s left‐handed; he’s right‐handed. And so it goes. Perhaps in part because of their differences, the Snyders have experienced nearly every imaginable conflict in marriage— over scheduling, communication, home life, finances, discipline of the children, and more. In over forty years of marriage, however, the Snyders have learned to appreciate their differences. They have faced, and weathered, more than their share of storms. The key, Chuck says, is nothing fancy—simply obedience to the Lord. If there’s hope for the World’s Most Opposite Couple, there’s hope for the rest of us, too.

Just between us…
  • Were you attracted by my “opposite” traits when we were dating?
  • Have we survived despite our differences, or because of them?
  • Do we accept the uniqueness of each other as God designed us, or do we struggle to “redesign” each other in our own images?
  • Which of my traits that are different from yours do you appreciate most?
Heavenly Lord, thank You for the differences that You weave together to make our marriage strong. Help us to respect, appreciate, and affirm these unique qualities more each day. Amen.

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

NIV Devotions for Couples - Righting Wrong Assumptions

John 9:1–41

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2

It’s so easy to make assumptions. I remember a time I made a hasty conclusion and was proved wrong.

I was teaching a writing course for a local university, and on the first night, I strolled up the front sidewalk and noticed a man sitting on the bench outside, smoking a cigarette. He was dirty, missing most of his front teeth, and he didn’t look too bright. His flannel shirt was torn, and his jeans were dirty. “He’s probably homeless,” I thought, moving on into the building.

As the students filed into class, I winced as I saw “Homeless” take a seat and pull a notebook out of his bag. “Oh, great,” I thought. “He’ll probably need remedial training; I bet he can’t string two sentences together.”

The man didn’t say a word during that first class. At the end of the three hours, I collected some paragraphs I had assigned to the students earlier that evening in which they were to describe a childhood experience that had affected them as adults.

I skimmed through the assignments and gasped in disbelief. “Homeless” could write! His paper was eloquent and heart wrenching; in short, it was the best first paper I’d read from a student in years.

This man subsequently went on to publish a book of essays dealing with his childhood.

The people of Jesus’ day were no different than I was. The man in John 9 must have had a rough life; because he had been born blind, people assumed he was being punished. Either he had sinned in the womb (or in a preexistent state) or else his condition was the result of the sin of his parents. Even Jesus’ disciples bought into those assumptions!

That kind of thinking still pervades our society, even among Christians: If you’d had more faith, your parent could have been cured of cancer. If you’d been a better husband or wife, your spouse wouldn’t have left you. On the flip side, those people over there have been so tremendously blessed; they must be doing something right.

We make judgments in marriage too. Assumptions about our spouse’s motives, feelings or rationale for doing something—without speaking about it first—can be so wrong. Yet our misconceptions can escalate into angry words, hard feelings and cold wars without us ever knowing the truth.

Jesus’ words in John 9:3 blow assumptions out of the water. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned . . . but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Likewise, God is working through our marriages and us, using various situations not to humble or exalt us but to reveal himself. He permits certain things to happen to us to teach us what it means to be his followers. So our assumptions may fall flat as we live out the works God displays in us.

We just need to be sure we open the Book before making judgments about what’s inside others.

Valerie Van Kooten

Let’s Talk
  • What preconceived notions did we have of each other when we first met? Were they correct or not?
  • Why is it dangerous to make assumptions about a person or situation before knowing much about it? How do we find out what’s really going on?
  • When have our assumptions been proven wrong about others who were having a hard time? How did that change our response to them?

Standing Strong Through the Storm - COMMUNICATION WITH GOD

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2 

Pastor Ha’s church in Vietnam grew from twenty-nine to over 5,000 in just a few years during the communist regime in the late 1970’s. When asked the secret of this phenomenal church growth, Pastor Ha replied, “I have a very simple theology. When you have problems, pray! When you have more problems, pray more!” Every morning this church had a well-attended prayer meeting at six a.m. And the church grew and grew. Although they were constantly living under pressure, there was one scripture text chosen for the wall of their sanctuary, “In everything give thanks.” 

And yet after his years of imprisonment, Pastor Ha said, “When I had my freedom, I worked with prayer sometimes in the background. In prison, I discovered that prayer is everything. It’s like a pilot using a checklist before he takes off. If he skips the first item, many lives might be in danger. The first item on our checklist should always be prayer. If we skip it, the whole mission is in jeopardy.” 

Vietnamese Pastor Cuong also spent over six years in prison. He says this about prayer:

In my work I was so busy I had no time to pray. But in prison, I was thankful to God that He gave me time for prayer. I had about six hours of prayer every day. I had time to recall every member of my congregation to pray for them. Before that, although I served the church, I didn't have enough time to pray for them. I learned about the real presence of God in prayer there. When you kneel down and pray wholeheartedly with the Lord, you feel His answer right there. 

All of the world's major religions emphasize prayer. The Buddhists repeat their prayers fervently, although they do not believe anyone is listening. The Hindus pray regularly, believing one of their many Hindu gods may be listening, but they do not really expect any response to their prayers. The Muslims pray five times a day. They believe that Allah is listening, but he will not alter his plans to meet their needs.

Devout Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims consider Christianity a prayerless faith, because they rarely see Christians praying. Yet we believe—and know—we have a God who not only hears our prayers, but also will answer them in mighty power! 

RESPONSE: Today I recommit to spending time in communication—prayer—with my Lord.

PRAYER: Pray that all Christians in prison will experience God’s presence in a special way today.

Verse of the Day - June 11, 2016

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Read all of Psalm 46