Monday, September 8, 2008

Devotional: Happily Ever After

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church."   Ephesians 5:31-32

Recently I had the privilege to speak at a pastor's conference in the country of Panama.   It was a wonderful time to speak to the pastors and their wives.   Our subject for the four day conference was "marriage".   It doesn't matter where you are in the world or to whom you are ministering, the subject of   "marriage" is always a good subject to talk about.   Since all of the conference is fresh on my heart, I thought that I would make it our devotional for this time.    

At the conference, I talked about what I believe has made my marriage to my wonderful wife so special.   Many men say that they have the best wives and that their marriage is wonderful, but I know that I do and mine is!   Do you know that you have the best spouse?  

The storybooks always end with, "And they lived happily ever after."   Sometimes it is hard to put into words just how much I love my wife and how much of a joy that it is to give to her and to love her.   She is a great blessing to our church family and congregation, but she is such a vital blessing to me as my wife and especially my best friend.   What makes our marriage so very special is that we choose to yield to "love".  

It is powerful to ask yourself these questions: What would "love" do?   What would "love" say?   How would "love" react?   

Keeping love alive and strong in our marriages and in our homes is very vital.   Our homes should be a sanctuary of peace for our families.   As husbands and wives, our love relationship in our marriages project and create those pillars of peace.  

In Ephesians chapter five, we read about wives submitting to their husbands, but the husband is shown in these verses as being an example of Christ's love for the church.   Ephesians 5:25 says,"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her."   Leadership truly begins at the top.   As husbands, we have the responsibility to set the spiritual atmosphere of the home.   But as we see in this verse, we are to be the leaders in love!  

So many marriages have the "he said, she said" mentality.   Love always gives!   If we can get past everything being all about "ME" we can rise to a new level in our love walk as Christians.   If we can get past everything being all about "ME" in our marriages and choose to the giver of love first, then we set spiritual principles into motion in our marriages and in our homes.   Galatians 6:7 tells us that we reap what we sow.   If we will consistently be the givers of love, we will "reap" if we faint not! (Galatians 6:9)

As husbands, we set the example in everything!   With the Bible as our guide, we are to love our wives as Jesus loved the church and "gave Himself for her."  Christ is our example.   He gave of Himself.   We, as husbands, should be the givers of love.  

But!   The same is true for the wives too!   Wives reap what they sow too!   Keeping love alive is the real key to living "happily ever after."   Quit being a complainer and be a sower!   Quit being a nag and be a sower!   Quit yielding to your flesh and the way your "all about me" fleshly, worldly attitude wants to react, and you choose to do what "love" would do!  

When we walk apart from "love's way" we are walking apart from God's way.   First Corinthians 12:31 is where Paul tells us that, "I show you a more excellent way."   After saying that, he takes us right into what is known as the "love chapter" of the Bible, First Corinthians 13.   Love, God's love in us, is a giver.   Love is not selfish nor does it have the attitude that it's all about "ME".   God's way is better than ours.   God's way is higher than my way.   Wouldn't His way be better in our daily lives?   Wouldn't His way be better in our marriages too?

As husbands and wives we must always remember First Corinthians 13:4-8.   Love passionately bears with our spouse.   Love doesn't demand it's way nor is it selfish towards their spouse.   Love goes overboard to take care of the needs of their spouse first.    I can go on and on!   Love never disappoints!   Love is a giver!  

What an example we can set for our children!   It really is not "do as I say"; it is truly "do as I do."   Amen!   The Bible says that we are not to give the devil an opportunity.   Walking apart from love and not being the giver FIRST is leaving the door open for trouble. We are to be "doers of the Word." We then must be doers of love as well!  

Let me give you some keys to living "happily ever after."  

1. Make Jesus The Center Of Your Home.  

As simple as it sounds we must be committed to God.   Obey His Word.   Be a doer of His Word and not just a hearer.   Joshua 24:15 says, "As for ME and MY HOUSE we will serve the Lord."   Our family is a product of our leadership.   As husbands and wives, let us lead by letting our homes and marriages be anchored on the Rock of Ages.

2. Always Be Willing To Forgive.

Our commitment to each other is that our disagreements always suffer short life spans.   Ephesians 4:26 says, "Be angry and sin not.   Do not let the sun go down on your wrath."   Don't you ever allow the sun to come up the next day and strife is still lingering around.   Don't allow things to fester and boil.   You can always correct your feelings when you choose to love!

3. Meet Each Other's Needs.

First Corinthians 7:3 says, "Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence : and likewise also the wife unto the husband."   Let me give you a different type of definition for this due benevolence.   To submit is to voluntarily yield and respond to someone else's needs.   Wow!   Can you voluntarily submit to meeting your spouse's needs, forgetting about what you want to make sure that they are totally satisfied?

Psychologists, both Christian and non-Christian, say that the number one thing a woman needs is affection, both verbally and physically.   That's not pawing and grabbing guys; that's the soft, tender touch, the tender but strong hugs, and special conversations. Talking and sharing your heart can be a powerful turn on!   The same doctors also say that the number one need for a man is sexual intimacy.   Ladies, you know what makes your husband's "clock tick"!   Both of you together as husband and wife should seek to build intimacy verbally and physically.   That keeps the fire alive!   Seek to meet each other's needs!

4. Be Nice! Be Considerate! And Be Kind!

I can choose to be angry.   Choosing to be angry just means I have to yield to my flesh.   I can also yield to being nice, considerate, and kind.   I choose what I yield to.   Always walk in love.   Always yield to love. Forget about yourself and "what I want".   Ask yourself the question, "What can I do to meet the needs of my spouse?"   Ladies, what can you do to meet the needs of your husband?   Men, what can you do to meet the needs of your wife?   Ladies, give him a reason that's so exciting, that he runs home to you!   Men, give her a reason to dream about you all day until you get home from work.  

Be the giver of love always.   Don't just be the taker!   If you will always be the giver, you'll reap, as we say down south, " a mess of loving!"   I always shout "AMEN" at my house!   How about you?

Prayer:   Father I choose to be the giver of love.   I choose to love my spouse unconditionally.   I choose to build them up and be that example of Your love in my home.   I choose to always do "What love, Your love, would do."   By choosing to love I am yielding to Your way, love's way.   Amen.