Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.
Proverbs 18:15The Message (MSG)
I remember my first job and how I knew nothing about working in a retail environment, however I had a zeal to learn. The manager was a colorful character with what seemed like sage type wisdom. He had a willingness to teach and expose me to what he had learned. If I had rejected his teaching and instruction, I probably would not have lasted long at that job, however I didn’t reject it, I embraced it. It was the opening up to knowledge and expressing my willingness to learn that encouraged him to not just share information related to work but also advice about life.
The bible says that you are wise if you are always putting yourself in a position to learn. Success in marriage is not about love but about knowledge and the application of it. Just as on my job, I needed instruction to do the job well, so it is with marriage. Also just like in the case of my job, when I opened myself to knowledge about the job, I also received wisdom that impacted my life. The life wisdom was the extra however it was the most useful and long lasting.
The bible is full of teachings on marriage and relationships, it is up to us to go after it and be receptive to change when we find it. Now that’s a Word.
19 Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];
James 1:19Amplified Bible (AMP)
I was in a restaurant the other day and was surprised at how attentive and catering the waitress was. She came to the table with a smile and listened intently as we gave our order. When she returned with the food I found that she had left off one item I had ordered or thought I had ordered. Her response was to apologize and I in turn apologized also, and she hastily went to correct the error. I am still not sure whether it was her fault or mine but we both apologized.
It has always seemed strange to me that we would give a total stranger our full attention and if a mistake is made in the communication, we don’t get upset, we just try to make it right.
Good communication is not about what is said, but about what is heard. Communication is the bedrock of a solid relationship, but not communication for the sake of communicating. Good communication is about relaying a message and receiving a message, being careful to convey that message in love. The scripture talks about slow to anger and about forgiving. This is because the message relayed and received may offend you, but just like the waitress and I, it is not about the wrong or the offense but about us coming to an agreement and walking away, knowing more and being better having had the conversation. I know it was not her intent to offend me or leave as an unsatisfied customer so why would I get mad.
Knowing the heart of our spouse and knowing that they love us is important to being slow to anger. There is a saying” don’t shot the messenger” your spouse is the messenger and they are trying to deliver a message presumably from their heart. Let’s listen attentively, be slow and thoughtful in our response and most of all, let’s listen without taking an offense. Remember they love you and in the end want you to be a happy and satisfied customer, eager to return. Now that’s a Word.
Luke 22 :24-27 King James Version (KJV)
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
Jesus was at the last supper with the disciples and he began to explain what was getting ready to happen to him. He began to talk about his going to the cross and the one who would begin the process by betraying him. After this announcement the disciples began to question each other as to who it might be. Then immediately after this inquiry they began to discuss which of them would be the greatest. Keep in mind that they never settled the question of who was going to betray him. Now they want to discuss promotion. Imagine that.
In response to their question Jesus tells them how the promotion will be determined. It will be by your service to others. See once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, our next responsibility is to begin working.
When I meet with troubled couples, it is always amazing the amount of selfishness that exist in the Christian home. Jesus makes it clear that if you want to be great you must serve. However, we didn’t get married to serve, but in most cases to be served. Someone famous, not sure who, I guess I could google it but whatever, said “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
In this self-absorbed, and self-centered world we live in, our marriages are being destroyed by our refusal to follow the advice of Jesus. Serve. Maybe we should adapt the above quote to say, “ask not what your spouse can do for you but what you can do for your spouse.” Just maybe we will have more peace and love in our homes and in our futures. Now that’s a Word!
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” MATTHEW 13:23
Examine Your Ground
As the season begins to change from winter to spring, I begin to think about gardening. I think about the type of fruit/produce I want, is the environment good for that type of fruit and is the ground I intend to sow ready to receive seed. A true gardener considers all three in order to get the best results for what you want to produce. If I’m looking at a package of seed, the picture of the fruit or vegetable on the seed package, looks nothing like the actual seed. But if you put the seed into “good” ground as specified on the package and the environment is right, you have a great chance of reaping a great harvest. So it is with the word of God. God’s word is “seed”, and he promises that it will not return to him void, and that it will accomplish that which it to. However you must prepare your heart(ground) to receive His word. You must read, study, meditate and embrace the word of God in order to reap a harvest. What stops most of us from receiving a bountiful harvest is the fact that we hear the word “seed”, and we chose which “seed” we will receive, meaning we receive “seeds” of health, healing and prosperity, but we refuse the word “seed” of sacrifice, patience, endurance, submission etc. In order to receive the 30, 60 and 100 fold that’s promised we must believe that all the word of God is powerful and purposeful. God’s word can and will change your life but it’s up to you to believe and obey. Let’s not pick and choose which word we will receive. Let’s embrace it all and reap the full benefit he intended. Now That’s a Word!!!
Why should I keep trying?
A couple months ago my Pastor preached a sermon about the strength of your Why. The jest of it was that, if you do not have a strong enough why, it will be difficult to remain motivated during challenging times. You see the reason we do something helps to encourage us when that thing in which we are doing goes bad or takes a wrong turn.
I know that it helps me to focus on my why, (wife, children, ministry) when it seems as if it would be better to just give up. When I take the focus off of my current pain and shift my attention to the promise or that thing my heart most desires, I get encouraged to hold on. When Jesus looked into the future and saw you and I being free from sin and living a victorious life, he endured the cross. He was able to hang on because he saw our lives hanging in the balance.
Many couples are at the edge of giving up and throwing in the towel, but why did you get married in the first place. Sure what you are looking at now doesn’t seem like it will ever become what you had dreamed, however I encourage you to focus on the why, you got married or why you started a family.
When we get married it is for better or for worse, although I’m sure you really got married for the better, thinking that you would skip the worse. However, and wherever you are in your relationship if you can just take your focus off of the hurt and pain and turn it toward the why, you will be able to endure your cross until the promise comes. Remember there are lives hanging in the balance. Now That’s a Word!
“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].” Colossians 3:12-13 AMP
The other day our youngest daughter came home with an Algebra Quiz with a less than favorable score (in our home anything less than a B is unfavorable). We went over the exam and she explained that her teacher was going to allow “test corrections” for those students that didn’t do so well. I laughed because back in the day, our instructors never allowed “test corrections” in order to improve your grade. The grade that you earned on the exam/test was the grade that was reflected on your report card, no questions asked. I was feeling some kind of way, because in my mind I was thinking that it should be the same way for my daughter, what worked for me surely was good enough for her.
God challenged me in my thinking, if I’m in error, or if I get something wrong, God doesn’t just say oh well, that’s what you get! God wants us to be successful in every area of our lives. According to Colossians 3:12-13 God calls us to be gentle and bear with one another as he has, ready to pardon offense. As an educator, I know the importance of the student obtaining mastery, it’s not the instructors goal to glorify what’s not known or to punish/publicize the error but, that the student come into full knowledge of what’s taught, not only to the benefit of the student but to the benefit of the teacher. There’s no greater joy than to see students walking in the full knowledge and understanding of what’s been taught. It’s always good to know that the Lord has freely forgiven us, it would be great to know that we can forgive each other, using our Savior as the ultimate example of “the test corrections”. Now That’s a Word!