Saturday, June 18, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Taking Chances

“The righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

Remember Evel Knievel, the death‐defying daredevil who jumped over cars, trucks, and all manner of objects on his motorcycle? Evel may have been a little too ambitious for his own good—he broke a number of bones in the process—but he can teach us something about risk.

When we stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone, we experience the thrill and confidence that comes from facing a new challenge. In the case of a bored husband or wife, this may mean joining a speaker’s group, volunteering to lead a Bible study, going on a backpacking trip, or taking a class. It might also include opening up to your spouse or relating the message of Jesus to a group of nonbelievers. For me (jcd), it was leaving a comfortable position as a professor of pediatrics, where I had a predictable income and the support of a large university. I traded that for a little two‐room office and called it “Focus on the Family.” Only God knew where that radical decision would lead, but it was the beginning of a ride that has resulted in my words being heard worldwide by two hundred million people every day. It was worth the risk, I would say.

Even if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped, you’ll still feel a sense of fulfillment from reaching for a dream. Just try not to break any bones.

Just between us…
  • What kind of positive risks have we taken in our marriage?
  • What risks does the Lord want us to avoid?
  • What have you always wanted to do, but haven’t yet dared to try?
  • In what ways can we take a risk for Jesus Christ? 
Heavenly Father, we never want fear or complacency in our marriage. By the strength of Your Spirit, may we reach together for new challenges in faith as long as we live. Amen.

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

NIV Devotions for Couples - Praying Together

Acts 1:12–26

They all joined together constantly in prayer. Acts 1:14

I don’t remember when Dan and I started praying together, but I do recall that our first attempts felt awkward. For a long time we only prayed the Lord’s Prayer out loud together. This was safe because we both knew the words to it.

Over time, and as each of us felt more comfortable being emotionally and spiritually naked with each other, we began to talk out loud to God as if he was the third person in our relationship. Now we try to pray out loud together daily. It’s no longer awkward, and it has promoted spiritual intimacy. That was an unexpected bonus of being married to each other. No one had ever told us we could experience this kind of intimacy in our relationship.

Sometimes at night before we fall asleep, we pray out loud. In the darkness, I can listen to Dan’s prayers and get a glimpse into the things he’s grateful for as well as the issues that are troubling him. Hearing him pray reminds me that he’s a work in progress, just as I am. It reminds me that my role in his life is to come alongside him, encourage him and support him. When I hear what’s on his heart, I am reminded again and again of the reasons why I married him. Praying together sets us on the same track with each other and with God.

I met a couple once who were remarkably powerful and effective in their prayer life together. Like the disciples and other believers who joined together constantly in prayer, this couple brought all their needs, praises and requests to God, trusting that he would lead and guide them. They then patiently waited for God’s answers.

In time God blessed this couple with a powerful ministry to special-needs orphans in China. The work keeps growing. This couple trusted God for everything, and, in turn, God entrusted them with the important work of caring for the least, which they are doing with all of their hearts.

It’s one thing to say to your spouse, “I’ll pray for your presentation today,” as you grab your coffee and run out the door to work. It’s another thing to grab your husband by the hand and say, “Let me pray with you before you go.” Jesus promises us that whenever two or three come together in his name, he will also be there (see Matthew 18:20). Why not invite him into your marriage today through prayer?

Marian V. Liautaud

Let’s Talk
  • Why is praying together so important? What does it offer that we wouldn’t gain by praying alone? Are there times when praying privately is better than praying together? When and why?
  • What grace must we extend to each other when we pray? How can we encourage and affirm each other in prayer?
  • How regularly do we pray together? In what ways does our frequency of praying together affect our marriage?

Standing Strong Through the Storm - PROJECT PEARL

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

One hundred-foot-long tugboat Michael lumbered along at the sleepy speed of three knots. It towed the semi-submersible barge, Gabriella, loaded with the million Chinese Bibles in 232 waterproof wrapped one-ton packages. By 9 p.m. on that historic night of June 18, 1981, Michael and its crew of twenty men weaved through a maze of anchored Chinese navy ships in the darkness near the port city of Shantou, southern China. Thousands of local Christians waited patiently in the darkness on the appointed beach.

The off-loaded floating packages were towed to shore by small rubber boats. Chinese believers came out in the water—some up to their neck. They pulled the blocks up onto the beach and cut them open with shears, handing the 45-pound cardboard boxes of Bibles to one another up the sand to the tree-line.

Two hours later, Michael and Gabriella and the crew left the scene with one million Bibles in the care of Chinese believers. They promised to circulate them across the entire country. In some cases, that process took as much as five years and many Chinese Christians paid dearly for it.

Over the past 30 years, Open Doors has received documented story after story—often from unusual places and situations—of the impact of those Bibles on the fast growing church in China. Project Pearl Bibles have been seen in virtually every province of the country.

A former colleague of mine from Singapore continues to minister in China. In the late 1990s, he met a large house church network of Christians in central China who still had no contact at all with foreigners from outside the country. They testified that it was the receiving of many Project Pearl Bibles that encouraged them and motivated them to share the gospel widely and thus grow to their current significant numbers.

One of those pocket-sized Bibles was received by a young Christian who had been praying for a Bible of his own for three years. After reading it through three times in three weeks, he felt God calling him to become one of the many itinerant evangelists preaching in China’s countryside. After fifteen years of ministry, he pastored a network of house churches that grew to over 400,000 members. His network of churches continues to need more than 20,000 Bibles a month just for new believers.

RESPONSE: I will appreciate the several Bibles I have and commit myself to learning and living from it.

PRAYER: Pray for Christians today in a variety of situations who are still waiting for their first copy of God’s Word.

Verse of the Day - June 18, 2016

Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Read all of Ephesians 6