Romans 11:6 tells us that works if in the flesh and God’s Grace is diametrically opposed to one another. They can not fellowship together or have anything to do with one another. Anytime we get into the works in the flesh, God’s grace has to step back. Take your hands off the situations, circumstances and relationships that concern you and let God’s grace go to work for you.
For all who like "lists" as a way to measure success, you'll like this
week's Marriage Message. Men especially like lists because we enjoy being
able to successfully and systematically check off each item.
The following list is challenging but we believe that if you follow them,
you could almost guarantee your marriage will succeed. As you read them
ask yourself, "Am I following this principle?" Then secondly, if you're
not following them, ask yourself, "How can I begin to implement them (a
selected principle or more) in my daily way of thinking and living with my
These principles are authored by Mark Brandenburg who is a certified
Personal Coach and author of, "Fix Your Wife in 30 Days or Less." It
appeared in a Smart Marriages article on 11/18/03 (an "oldie but a
goodie"). We added the additional comments in (parenthesis):
1. FORGET ABOUT GETTING YOUR NEEDS MET. Focus on your spouse and what you
can do for them. This is the best way to bring out the best in both of
you. ("Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not to
your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4)
2. KEEP SOME MEANINGFUL RITUALS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Whether it's having
dinner conversation after work every night or taking a long walk, have
something in place that allows you to stay in touch with each other's lives.
(And don't forget to schedule date times regularly with your spouse.
You dated each other before marriage--that's what contributed to your
falling in love in the first place. Don't neglect dating each other
after the wedding to help your love STAY alive and vital.)
3. HAVE A 5-to-1 RATIO OF POSITIVE TO NEGATIVE INTERACTIONS. There should
be 5 compliments, hugs, or squeezes of the arm for every roll of the
eyes, every criticism, or every episode of blaming.
(Better yet, don't roll the eyes or do anything that's disrespectful to
each other. It causes erosion to the relationship that doesn't glorify God.)
("Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe
yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and
patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may
have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all
these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect
unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of
one body you were called to peace." Colossians 3:12-15)
4. BE RELENTLESS IN YOUR PURSUIT OF SELF-IMPROVEMENT AND TRYING TO BE A
BETTER PERSON. Healthy marriages tend to grow and change. This means
that you must be willing to try on new behaviors and to take some risks.
5. MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE FULL OF SPECIAL SURPRISES. Marriages are more alive
and exciting when there are surprises sprinkled into them. Surprise
your spouse with an outing, a special date night, flowers, candy, or
anything else that excites them.
6. TAKE GREAT SELF-CARE. If you're all stressed out, you're going to be a
"bear" to be around! Make sure you follow a program of self-care that
allows you to give energy to the relationship.
("Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who
is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you
were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1
7. DEVELOP A COMMON INTEREST THAT YOU CAN SHARE TOGETHER. You're going to
be spending a lot of time together. It's nice to have an activity to
share that helps you to enjoy that time together. Whether it's
golfing, traveling, hiking, or shopping, find your common interests and
turn them into pleasurable experiences.
8. FOCUS ON BEING KIND AND NOT ON BEING RIGHT. It's easy to spend time
showing your spouse that you're right. Focus on being kind instead.
You'll argue less and enjoy each other more.
("Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only
what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that
it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29)
9. WHEN THINGS DO GET HEATED, COMMIT TO A PLAN THAT WORKS. Don't say
things in the heat of the moment that may do damage to your
relationship. Have a plan in place that may include: walking away,
continuing the discussion at a later date, for a sort of relaxed response.
(Please re-read this advice. It's excellent. "Do not grieve the Holy
Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get
rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with
every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators
of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 4:32-5:2)
10. DEVELOP A NETWORK OF SUPPORT AROUND YOU. Whether it's friends or
family, have a group of people that you spend time with, which you can
confide in and share times with. It always helps to know that others
are going and/or have gone through the same things you are.
("Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of
doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see
the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25)
We pray God's greatest blessings on your marriage this coming year. Don't
forget to treat each other with the love and respect God would have you--
treating your spouse as more important than yourself--using Christ as your
example of sacrificial love.
n Seuntjie het buite gespeel en hy was besig om vir hom huisies te bou en paaie te maak sodat hy met sy karretjies daarop kon ry. In die proses was daar n baie groot rots wat in sy pad was, en hy het alles probeer om die rots geskuif te kry. Hy het dit getrek, hy het dit gestoot, hy het naderhand sy fietsie gaan haal en n tou daarom vasgemaak en dit so probeer wegtrek, maar alles tevergeefs. Die sweet het hom afgetap, en hy het moedeloos langs sy pa gaan sit wat onder n boom op n bank gesit het, en hierdie hele petalje aanskou het. Sy pa het hom vol liefde aangekyk en vir hom gevra: "Boetman het jy nou alles probeer?" Baie verontwaardig se hy vir sy pa: "Pappa het gesien hoe hard ek gesukkel het, ek is nou so moeg en die rots beweeg nie".
Sy pa het saggies oor sy koppie gestreel, en vir hom gese: "Maar jy het nog nie als probeer nie". Boetman het opgespring en gese: "Maar pappa het gesien hoe sukkel ek" En toe antwoord sy pa in n sagte stem, "Nee my seun, jy het nog nie alles probeer nie, want jy het my nog nie gevra nie".
Here hoe dikwels het ons hierdie vreeslike rots in ons pad, en niks wat ons doen of se beweeg dit nie, en as ons dan op n hopie neersak en ons wil huil van moedeloosheid, dan vra U so saggies: " My kind, het jy my al gevra" Ons erken vandag dat ons eers in ons eie krag probeer, en as niks wil werk nie, dan gaan ons na U toe as n laaste poging. Here, van hierdie dag af, onderneem ek om eerste by U Voete te gaan sit, dan het ek nie nodig om my eie kragte so uit te put nie.
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate.
The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction, as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.
As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again.
Within days, his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Easter holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, a season that he and his son had so looked forward to, would visit his house no longer. On Easter morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man.
As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you."
As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man's son had told everyone of his father's love of fine art. "I'm an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail.
Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task.
True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars of paintings. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Easter gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy's life would live on because of those he had touched. He would soon learn that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart.
As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease the grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation.
With the collector's passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Easter day, the day he had received his greatest gift.
The day soon arrived. Art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would claim "I have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was the painting of the man's son.
The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. "Who will open the bidding with $100?" he asked. Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room came, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and go on to the good stuff." More voices echoed in agreement.
"No, we have to sell this one first," replied the auctioneer.
"Now, who will take the son?" Finally, a friend of the old man and his son spoke. "Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That's all I have. I knew the boy, so I'd like to have it."
"I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, "Going once, going twice. Gone." The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these treasures!"
The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over.
Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? We didn't come here for a picture of some old guy's son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars of art here! I demand that you explain what's going on here!"
The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son... gets it all!"
Just as those art collectors discovered on that Easter day, the message is still the same - the love of a Father - a Father whose greatest joy came from His Son who left his home and gave his life rescuing others. And because of that Father's love... whoever takes the Son gets it all.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)
Depend on the LORD; trust him, and he will take care of you. Psalm 37:5
God is committed to caring for our needs. Paul tells us that a man who won't feed his own family is worse than an unbeliever (1Ti 5:8 ). How much more will a holy God care for his children? After all, how can we fulfill his mission unless our needs are met? How can we teach or minister or influence unless we have our basic needs satisfied? Will God enlist us in his army and not provide a commissary? Of course not.
"I pray that the God of peace will give you everything you need so you can do what he wants" (Heb 13:20 ). Hasn't that prayer been answered in our life? We may not have had a feast, but haven't we always had food? Perhaps there was no banquet, but at least there was bread. And many times there was a banquet.
The Great House of God (Max Lucado)
I went out for a run early this morning (it was dark and very cloudy, but the moon kept breaking through), it was just so beautiful and peaceful and I felt so close to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. As I was running, I was reflecting on this season of Easter and the Holy Spirit impressed upon me the following, which I want to submit to you :
He knows! We say that we are feeling betrayed, " … my spouse promised on the day of our wedding that we would be together until death do us part, but I have been betrayed for someone else and I can't get over it…” He says He knows. Judas Iscariot did the same to Him, he sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
He knows! We say that we are filled with fear for the future. He says He knows. In the Garden of Gethsemane , Jesus was so troubled that He sweated great drops of blood.
He knows! We say that we have been rejected. Jesus says He knows exactly how we feel because all of His trusted disciples ran away and left Him completely alone!
He knows! We say that we are in immense physical pain, Jesus says He knows, He spent six hours on the Cross before He eventually died in excruciating pain.
What Jesus showed me on my early morning run is that He really does understand what you and I are going through at the moment, because He has been there Himself. Jesus is not some far off God seated on a throne, totally out of touch with His people. No! Jesus has walked this road before and He wants you and I to lean heavily on Him. He wants to help us simply because He loves us and He understands.
Yes, He knows!
Have a very Blessed Easter and take out some time to be alone with Him. Meditate on His wonderful love for each of us.
This is a true story, one that I promise you will never forget, and one
that will cause you to think of Easter in a totally different light.
The Lady's name was Edith Burns. She was a wonderful Christian who lived
in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of a fine Christian doctor by
the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw
patients as people. His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning he
went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns.
When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big
black Bible in her lap. She was earnestly talking to a young mother
sitting beside her.
Dr. Phillips knew why Edith was there and what she was doing. You see,
Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: "Hello, my
name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Then she would explain
the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved. Dr.
Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse
Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure.
Edith began by saying, "My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in
Beverly said, "Why yes I do."
Edith said, "Well, what do you believe about Easter?"
Beverly said, "Well, it's all about egg hunts, going to church, and
Well, Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and
finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Dr. Phillips
said, "Beverly, don't call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe
there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room. After being
called back in the doctor's office, Edith sat down and when she took a
look at the doctor she said, "Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you
reading your Bible?
Are you praying?"
Dr. Phillips said, "Now Edith, I'm the doctor and you're the patient."
With a heavy heart he said, "Your lab report came back and it says you
have cancer, and Edith, you're not going to live very long."
Edith said, "Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you
think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I'm going to see my
precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me
that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having
difficulty giving me my
Dr. Phillips thought to himself, "What a magnificent woman this Edith
Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips every day. Christmas came and the
office was closed through January 3rd. On the day the office opened,
Edith did not show up.
Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have
to be moving her story to the hospital and said, "Will, I'm very near
home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in
my room who need to know about Easter."
Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room
with Edith. Many women were gloriously saved. Everybody on that floor
from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started
calling her Edith Easter; everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse.
She made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she
was a "religious nut". She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had
seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had
been married three times, she was hard, cold, and did everything by the
Well, one morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick.
Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot.
When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said,
"Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for
Phyllis Cross said, "Well, you can quit praying for me, you religious
won't work. I'm not interested."
Edith said, "Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go
home until you come into the family."
Phyllis Cross said, "Then you will never die because that will never
happen." She walked out of the room.
Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into that room and Edith would say,
"God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I'm praying for you."
One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith's room like
a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, "I'm
so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special
Phyllis Cross said, "Edith, you have asked everybody here the question,
'Do you believe in Easter?' but you have never asked me." Edith said,
"Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you
asked, and now that you have asked..."
Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter
Story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Edith said, "Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that
Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?"
Phyllis Cross said, "Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and
I do want Jesus in my life." Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and
invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross
did not walk out of a hospital room, she was carried out on the wings of
Two days later, Phyllis Cross came in and Edith said, "Do you know what
day it is?" Phyllis Cross said, "Why Edith, it's Good Friday."
Edith said, "Oh, no, for you every day is Easter. Happy Easter Phyllis!"
Well, two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis Cross came into work,
did some of her duties and then went down to the flower shop and got
some Easter lilies because she wanted to go up to see Edith and give her
some Easter lilies and wish her a Happy Easter.
When she walked into Edith's room, Edith was in bed. That big black
Bible was on her lap. Her hands were in that Bible. There was a sweet
smile on her face.
When Phyllis Cross went to pick up Edith's hand, she realized Edith was
dead. Her left hand was on John 14: "In my Father's house are many
mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive
you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4, " And God will wipe away every
tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor
crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have
Phyllis Cross took one look at that dead body, and then lifted her face
toward heaven, and with tears streaming down here cheeks, said, "Happy
Easter, Edith - Happy Easter!"
Phyllis Cross left Edith's body, walked out of the room, and over to a
table where two student nurses were sitting. She said, "My name is
Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?"
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1 (NIV)
Today is Good Friday. The day our Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life so that we could be put right with God.
Picture the first Good Friday. Our Lord Jesus Christ had been reviled, mocked, whipped, degraded and sentenced to death. Then he was nailed to a cross. He hung there in excruciating pain.
His cry, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" still comes ringing down through the ages. It is the most desolate plea ever uttered and every Good Friday it pierces our hearts anew.
At this, the lowest point of his life on earth, Jesus draws strength from the Psalms. It is something we would do well to remember when we undergo absolute hardship.
In his extremity Jesus did not plea for clemency from his oppressors or cry for help from his disciples, all but one of them had in any event deserted him. He cried out direct to God.
When we reach a crisis point in life, we seldom make praying to God our first priority. We prefer first to look for other avenues of support.
Jesus in his cry to God opens himself completely to God. He expresses his innermost feelings fully and frankly to God.
I have a suspicion that we tend to be too embarrassed to be frank in our prayers. We prefer to use traditional utterances and well-worn phrases rather than to say what is really on our mind to our Father.
Our Heavenly Father sees straight into our hearts and for our own sake, we need to be absolutely transparent when we talk to him.
Prayer: Almighty God, in our prayers rid us of all pretence. Through the Holy Spirit give us courage to lay ourselves open to you and to talk to you fully and frankly as a child to their parent. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1 (GNB)
It is mind boggling to think that every human being who has ever trod on this planet, was. or is, a person in their own right with a unique personality and distinctive traits. Our individual fingerprints are proof that we are all different.
Sometimes those differences can lead to tensions, bickering and quarrelling even between God’s people. Yet there can also be strength in diversity. “Each one does the work which the Lord gave him to do. I (Paul) sowed the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-6
Only the devil’s interests are served when believers argue and put each other down.
The persons who serve God best are the ones who develop the qualities they have been given. Rather than arguing with other Christians they should also be encouraging them to develop their God given talents.
A thought to ponder: Christians should never forget who is also present when they meet. “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”Matthew 18:20.
Prayer: Almighty God by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to your service. Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit that we may discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children. Through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen