|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:Today, I would like to share some thoughts regarding the reading from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Okay, I know, I usually try to "spice things up" by sometimes commenting on the early Old Testament verses, sometimes on the New Testament verses, and sometimes on the middle reading. Yet for two days in a row, I've focused on a point from Ecclesiastes, and here I go again for the third day running... But, if you'll bear with me on this, I think there are some beautiful and powerful concepts here which will strengthen and encourage our Christian marriages.
Christians commonly know that marriage is one of the clearest pictures we have (on earth) of the relationship between Christ and His Church. It is a beautiful thing to see a young couple, saying their wedding vows with starry eyes and hearts committed to God and to each other. It is even more beautiful to see an older couple, who have faithfully kept that commitment to God and to each other for 50+ years. In Ecclesiastes, we are given powerful principles that will take us from wedding day to golden anniversary - and beyond - with joy and to the glory of God. Consider the tips found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
They have a Good Reward for their Labour:
First, a godly marriage will produce Eternal fruit. When my husband and I counsel young couples who are considering marriage, our first question of them is whether or not they make each other stronger or weaker in their individual relationships with God. A right relationship will be a nurturing greenhouse in which the two people not only grow but encourage each other in the Way of the Kingdom.
Having established that a relationship brings greater spiritual depth to both people, we then ask if they are able to complete their Heavenly Calling better together or separately. If the couple can answer that they are better enabled to serve God and fulfill His Heavenly Calling together than they can separately, the two most critical factors are in place upon which to consider building a godly marriage.
In such cases the "two are better than one". And such a united and Christ-centered relationship will most assuredly produce fruit in souls touched for the Heavenly Kingdom. This is the Eternal "reward for their labour".
If They Fall, The One Will Lift up His Fellow:
In my own marriage, I have noticed how this principle is demonstrated. When my husband's faith is weak and he is under spiritual attack or even falling in some way, I am quick to get into the "prayer trenches" of intercession on his behalf. He does the same for me. When I was in the darkest moments of my life, detailed in my new book (coming out this April) titled Escaping From the Dragon's Jaws, my husband fasted and prayed for me.
Instead of judging our marital partner's weakness, instead of growing bitter against them for their un-Christ-like attitudes and behaviors in those moments of falling, we can reach out, stand in the gap, and intercede for our spouses. In this way, we lift each other up and strengthen one another.
They Will Have Heat:
Scripture compares temperature to one's spiritual condition. We are "cold" when we are spiritually dead. We are "hot" when we are "on fire" for God. Just as a committed couple may intercede to lift each other up in times of failure, so the partners of a Christ-centered marriage can help to keep each other spiritually warm. We share with each other the things we have found in our private devotions. We pray together and encourage each other in Christ.
Being in a Christ-centered marriage is one of the most powerful protections against becoming the proverbial "lukewarm" Christian.
A Cord of Three Strands is not Easily Broken:
A Christian marriage is a cord of three strands. One strand is the husband. Another strand is the wife. And the third strand is God, Who is to be the center of the couple's hearts and the center of the marriage.
So how is your marriage doing? Are you the loving couple God intends for you to be with your spouse? Or has the fire of faith and commitment waned a bit? Here are few loving lab assignments to help you strengthen your marriage cord, whether your cord is frayed, or already pretty strong, these things will only make it better still. To strengthen your marriage cord, take the 15-day Marriage Challenge:
15-Day Marriage Challenge:
Day 1 - send a sweet text expressing your love and appreciation for your spouse. Include a Scripture Promise to encourage your partner in the Lord.
Day 2 - share a 6-second kiss. Then hold each other as you pray for God to bless your partner's life.
Day 3 - unplug and tune into each other by having a long conversation. Share your hearts with each other. Pray together over any issues on each other's hearts.
Day 4 - leave a love-note in an unexpected place for your partner to find. Look up your spouse's name meaning and find a Scripture that is an encouraging message for that name meaning. Include this name meaning and message at the end of your love note.
Day 5 - learn each other's love language at www.5lovelanguages.com and work to convey love to your partner in his/her love language today. Then focus on conveying your love to God in His Languages, which are: obedience, worship, and praise.
Day 6 - try a new dish together. As you dine, share the ways your partner is a blessing to you. Thank God for the gift of your spouse.
Day 7 - hold hands while you are out and about. Love is about letting your love for each show. Let your love for God show also, by sharing your love for Him with one stranger.
Day 8 - play a game together and share some laughter. Then spend some time together "delighting in the Lord".
Day 9 - enjoy a picnic in the park. Simply relax and breathe... :-) For a fun, spiritual option, read Psalm 103 together under the trees.
Day 10 - get dressed up and have a date night. Say a blessing over each other at dinner.
Day 11 - give a spontaneous gift (whether big or small). Choose a gift which will encourage your partner and shows that you love him/her.
Day 12 - make a "why I love you" list and give to your partner. Then make a "why I love You" list for God. Pray a thankful prayer to God, reading your list for why you love Him.
Day 13 - find someone who needs help (a shut-in person, someone who is elderly, someone who is sick) and team up, go over to the person's house and bless them by helping meet their needs together.
Day 14 - share old memories, go through childhood pictures together. Share your happiest and most blessed moments. Share your toughest times and how God helped you through them.
Day 15 - make a playlist of songs that remind you of each other. Amidst the romantic songs, be sure to include a few spiritual songs to encourage each other in God (choose your partner's favorite hymn or praise song).