Christian Devotionals

For Better or for Worse
''...Having loved His own... He loved them to the end.' John 13:1

On a busy morning, a nurse in the crowded emergency room seated an elderly gentleman who had come to have stitches removed from his hand. He said, 'I'm in a hurry, nurse. I have an appointment in an hour.' As the line of patients ahead of him moved slowly he kept looking anxiously at his watch. Knowing he'd never make his appointment, the nurse led him to an examination room, checked his vital signs and evaluated the condition of his wound. Seeing it was well healed, she consulted with one of the doctors and got clearance to remove his sutures and re-dress his wound. She asked, 'Are you hurrying to another doctor's appointment?' He said, 'No, I'm on my way to have breakfast with my wife at the nursing home.' She asked about his wife's health and learned she was a victim of Alzheimer's disease. 'Will she be upset if you're late?' The old man told her she hadn't recognized him in five years. Surprised, the nurse asked, 'And you still go to see her every morning, although she doesn't know who you are?' The old man smiled, patted her hand and replied, 'Oh, yes. She doesn't know who I am, but I still know who she is!' Loving 'for better or for worse' means being committed to each other in every season and circumstance of life. It's how Christ loves us: '...Having loved His own... He loved them to the end.' And it's why He said, 'A new command I give you... As I have loved you, so you must love one another' (John 13:34 NIV).

Celebrate your marriage
Give honour to marriage and remain faithful Hebrews 13:4

Over breakfast one morning a woman asked her husband, 'If I died would you remarry?' 'Probably,' he responded. 'Would she live in our house, sleep in our bed, and use my golf clubs?' his wife asked. 'No,' he replied, 'she is left-handed!' Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye opener! The truth is, there are times in every marriage when you just have to grit your teeth, pray for grace, and remember your commitment before God. Nevertheless, there are many reasons to celebrate your marriage. Here are five:

a) exclusive membership. When you, 'Give honour to marriage and remain faithful,' you enjoy all the privileges of a club with only two members. Think: who knows your likes, dislikes, joys and sorrows better than your spouse? It is what binds you together b) double enrichment. God said, 'Live happily with the woman [or man!] you love...' (Ecclesiastes 9:9 NLT). Think: what good is success if you have nobody to enjoy it with? c) strength in unity. Remember, 'A person ...alone can be...defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer' (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT). Two people in a strong relationship 'can accomplish more than twice as much' (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT) d) somebody to lean on. The Bible says, 'If one...falls, the other can reach out and help' (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT). In a good marriage when one partner is battle-weary, the other can take over for a while e) a higher goal.

Marriage is not just about ending loneliness; from God's perspective it is also about modeling to the world the love He has for His people. So, celebrate your marriage!

How it is - how it ought to be!
Husbands, love your wives Ephesians 5:25

First, how it is. Consider the seven stages of a cold marriage. The first year the husband says, 'Sugar, I'm worried about you. You've got a bad sniffle. I want to put you into the hospital for a complete check-up. I know the food's lousy, but I've arranged for your meals to be sent in from Rossini's.' The second year: 'Honey, I don't like the sound of that cough. I've called Dr. Miller and he's coming right over. Now will you go to bed like a good girl, just for me - please?' The third year: 'Maybe you'd better lie down, honey. Nothing like a little rest if you're feeling bad. I'll bring you something to eat. Have we got any soup in the house?' The fourth year: 'Look, dear, be sensible. After you've fed the kids and washed the dishes, you'd better hit the sack.' The fifth year: 'Why don't you take a couple of Aspirin?' The sixth year: 'If you'd just gargle or something, instead of sitting around barking like a seal.' The seventh year: 'For goodness sake, stop that sneezing. What are you trying to do, give me pneumonia?' Now, how it ought to be! 'Husbands, go all out in love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church - a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her...And that is how husbands ought to love their wives' (Ephesians 5:25-27 TM).

Ruth's prayer
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife. Genesis 2:24

Next to following Jesus, there's not a more important decision than your choice of a mate. When Ruth Bell was a teenager, she was sent to school in Korea. Intending to become a missionary, she envisioned herself as a confirmed 'old maid' ministering to the people of Tibet. She did, however, give some thought to the kind of husband she might consider. Here's what she prayed for: 'Lord, he must be so tall that when he's on his knees he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no and tender enough to kiss. His love must be so deep that it takes its stand in Christ and so wide that it takes in a whole lost world. He must be active enough to win souls, big enough to be gentle, great enough to be thoughtful and his arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.' That's a pretty tall order! But Ruth did become a missionary to Tibet. And she did find a man worth marrying - Billy Graham. As his wife she became a missionary to the whole world! If you don't have a partner, consider the qualities you'd like in one and begin praying for them. That's right, pray! God knows who they are, and, when the time's right, He'll send them your way - if you'll just be faithful to Him!

A Word to Husbands and Wives
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

So many wives complain: 'I just do not know what my husband wants!' There's a reason. Their husbands do not tell them; at least not in a loving way. When a wife understands what her husband desires and sees that he loves her unselfishly, she's usually eager to respond and quick to do all she can to meet his needs. Wives often say to their husbands: 'I need to talk to you.' That is because wives often need to talk, more than husbands feel a need to talk. What a wife means when she says, 'I need to talk,' is that she needs her husband to listen to her, then respond. She needs to know that she's loved, that he understands how she feels, that he recognizes the problems that she faces and wants to do something about them.

When a husband talks to his wife it is extremely important that she listen. Many women do not understand how difficult it is for a man to trust a woman with his heart. That trust is so fragile. He can be turned off by one insensitive comment. So, when he opens up, listen with your heart and do not interrupt. Do not move to fill a silence that might occur for a few seconds or even minutes. The more he's allowed to articulate the vision he has for your family, the faith he has in the Lord and the desires he has for you as a couple, the more secure you are going to feel in your marriage.

By Pastor Mark Jeske

When you feel wounded by your spouse, it sure is hard to manage the adrenaline rush. Who can resist "payback time"? Who can resist "teaching her a lesson"? If you catch yourself thinking (or saying) things like this, realize that very little teaching and learning happen with anger. You can't control your partner's mouth. But you can control yours. Ready for wedding garment #4? "As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with . . . gentleness" (Colossians 3:12).

Gentleness means that you will not allow stress in the relationship to escalate. It takes two to fight. You will not allow a misunderstanding to morph into sharp words. You will not let sharp words morph into an argument, an argument into a fight, or a fight into something physical.

Gentleness means that the level of stress stops right here. It means clamping your lips shut so that angry things can't get out. It means keeping your voice soft. It means asking questions of clarification, assuming that your partner couldn't have meant anything so hurtful. It means taking a walk around the block before blurting things you will regret later.

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