It’s funny how things work in life. You can’t get the results you’re looking for unless you’re willing to put in the work it takes to get those results. That’s how God made things to operate, right?
That means you can’t have a CHRISTIAN marriage if BOTH partners aren’t actively living and growing AS Christians. Same principle… and one we’ll discuss on this episode.
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Christian comes first, and that means each of you as Christians have to be strong in your relationship with the Lord.
The marriage relationship comes next as the next step in that progression.
And then your family, the parenting, comes a step after that.
All of that is because your marriage health cannot surpass the level of maturity each of you possesses in your walk with the Lord.
That’s a pretty strong statement, so let’s think about that for a minute.
Your marriage health cannot surpass the level of maturity each of you possesses in your walk with the Lord.
I think the reason that we want to highlight this point is because we’ve seen many situations where, for example, the wife is a strong believer, goes to Bible studies, is passionate about raising the kids to know the Lord, all of that. And the Dad, he’s a believer, but he goes to church only. He doesn’t have his own daily quiet time, he may be struggling with temptations and laziness and pride and all kinds of things.
In a situation like this, you have an imbalance in the relationship. You have one person who’s really going hard for the Lord, the other is not. What’s the result of that on the marriage?
It’s a sad mess. It’s not a unified godly marriage, that’s for sure. The spouses are operating according to different world views, different goals and ambitions, differing desires and concerns about their lives, their kids, their finances – everything. There’s not much hope of unity happening in a situation like that.
So each spouse needs to nurture their own relationship with God, if they’re going to have a strong Christian marriage. And there’s really two tools God’s given us to do that.
The power of daily time in God’s word
The most important tool that God has given us is daily time in His Word, being led by the Holy Spirit who’s living inside of us. Psalms 119.105 says…
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The imagery of this psalm is so powerful and helpful. Imagine holding an old lantern, or in the day of the psalmist, it would have been a clay lamp of some sort with oil for fuel. Imagine how much light it gives off on a really dark evening? Not much.
There is likely just enough to see the next two or three steps.
God’s Word functions in that way, and that small radius of sight that it illuminates, represents the day-to-day choices, the little elements of everyday life that we all encounter. While that may sound a bit dreary, that we only get a LITTLE of God’s illumination, it’s really GREAT news. We HAVE God’s word for every day’s needs. How should I handle this decision? How should I deal with my kid’s disobedience in this area? How should I handle my wife when she’s upset? You probably have examples of your own you can think of.
God’s Word is fundamental. Let’s look also at Deuteronomy 32, 46 through 47.
But let’s set up the context. God’s people have come out of captivity in Egypt under the leadership of Moses, who God appointed to be their leader. They came to the promised land, were at the Jordan River, sent in some spies to check out the land, and they came back and said, no way. And well, 10 of them did. Two of them said, yeah, we can take them. But the people listened to the 10, and didn’t trust God, so God had them wander in the in the wilderness for 40 years.
This passage comes when they’re back at the Jordan River a second time after that 40 years of wandering.k They’re about to cross over into the promised land and Moses is reiterating the law, and he’s encouraging them to listen to the law. And here’s what he says in Deuteronomy 32, 46 through 47….
“When Moses had finished speaking all these words to Israel, he said to them, take to heart all the words by which I’m warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law, for it is no empty word for you, but your very life.”
There’s a couple of things in here that are worthy of attention. First is that phrase, “take to heart.”
When you hear that phrase, what does it mean to you? It means, take it seriously. Think about it. Ponder it. What ever it is you’re supposed to take to heart, it’s not to be a tangential issue. Moses is saying that about God’s word. We’re supposed to seriously consider God’s Word.
It’s not a take-it-or-leave-it resource. In fact, Moses says, “it is your very life.” I don’t think enough about the fact that God’s Word IS my very life. We need to think of it more like that, don’t we? We absolutely do.
And we could also rephrase that by saying… This is your very marriage, your very home.
If you want a good marriage, a godly marriage, a marriage that’s pleasing to God, then you need to take seriously the responsibility you have to listen to God’s word and implement His instruction.
Moses also said, “take to heart these things which I’m warning you with today.” The warning isn’t, “Hey, don’t do that!” The warning is, “Hey, don’t neglect God’s word!” Because when you neglect the wisdom and the instruction that God has given, you’re on your own. You’re trying to navigate life, which God created, without His help. That’s a foolish place to be. It’s kind of like a person thinking they can go get in a plane and fly it without having a flight instructor.
It’s just not a good idea.
What would happen if you did? You would crash, your life would end.
Many times marriages end because they’re not gaining the life of their marriage through Christ and His word. It teaches us the principles we need to live in relationship with Him and with others. So to apply that to our marriage just makes sense.
The importance of daily prayer
There’s a second tool that we’re given that is vital for us to live a daily Christian in life as a believer, and that’s daily prayer. Philippians 4, 6-7 says…
“Do not be anxious about anything, raise your hand if you’re ever anxious, and that’s all of us, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It’s interesting the way Paul poses this, it’s like prayer is the antidote to anxiety. Stress, fear, all those things that crowd in on us, prayer is the antidote. Mindi has practiced prayer in a dedicated fashion since she was quite young. She’s got some incrediblie insight into the benefits of concerted prayer.
She says that first, prayer has made her be dependent on God. God wants us to learn and grow in dependence on Him. This verse talks about not being anxious about anything, but going to God in prayer about all things. What’s that going to do? It’s going to cause us to ask Him for something, and then we’re going to depend on Him to provide. We’re going to be waiting on Him instead of not giving Him a thought throughout the day and trying to work things out in our own strength, which would cause us to not be living a godly life or experiencing a godly marriage.
In the same passage, notice that Paul says, “in everything, by prayer,” so if we are to be praying about everything, then I think at the very least we should be praying daily. If not throughout the day, in little foxhole kind of prayers where you’re in the middle of a circumstance and cry out, “Oh God, help me! Help me understand. Help me know what to do. Help me deal with my wife’s problem right now.” Whatever the situation is.
God also says we are to pray with thanksgiving. He wants us to be close to Him in relationship, and prayers of thanks bring that about by reminding us of His goodness and drawing our hearts close to Him. A great illustration that we’ve all experienced is when you receive a special gift and you go to the person and thank them from your heart. What does that do for your relationship, the fact that you came and you gave thanks?
It kind of solidifies the relationship. It completes the action of the giving and the receiving. There’s love and appreciation, a deepening of the connection between the people involved. And all of that comes about from recognizing the kindness of the person who gave the gift and giving thanks.
And so move that from a human relationship into our relationship with God. Thanksgiving does the exact same thing in our relationship with Him, which I think is very important for us to notice. Why? Because God being a spirit and being unseen, it can be very hard to feel like He’s really there. But when we’re thankful, we know that there’s something happening there. We’re drawing close to Him. He’s drawing closer to us. It’s building the relationship.
Another thing that I think is important here is that peace comes from entrusting things to God through prayer. It says that when you lay all these things at His feet, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. So it’s even a protective thing for us to pray. We don’t think about prayer as a protective thing very often. When we are feeling at peace after we entrusted something to the Lord because we believe that He’s going to answer, we’re protected from worrying again. We’re protected from fear, anger, depression possibly. There’s a lot of protection that could happen.
Let’s look at one more passage here. James 1, verses 5 and 6 says…
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God.”
So that’s talking about prayer. It says “let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
This is a tremendous promise. The God of the universe promises to give us His wisdom. And then verse 6 says, “but let him ask in faith with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that’s driven and tossed by the wind.” We are guaranteed the wisdom of God if we’ll simply ask for it and believe that He’s going to give it to us. And all of that is an act of prayer, isn’t it?
Don’t we all need wisdom to know how to best love our husband or our wife? That’s the foundation of what we need from the Lord when we’re in a marriage. To know how to communicate well, to know how to love them in view of their particular hurts and wounds from their upbringing or experiences. The unity of marriage comes about through the application of wisdom, and boy, we really need that, don’t we?
We’re going to give you a multiple choice kind of an assignment this time. We’ve got three things here. You can pick the one you want, because our goal in this episode is to encourage you to start or level up your relationship with the Lord as an individual within your marriage. So how are you going to do that? What are some tools you can use?
At first, if I might humbly encourage you, listen to my other podcast, The Morning Mindset. It’s a six-minute daily encouragement time in the scripture, prayer, applying it to our lives, that can fit into your routine really easily.
You can listen as you’re putting on your makeup, as you’re driving in the car to work, as you’re getting breakfast ready. We have friends who listen to it every morning and their little baby recognizes my voice. It’s really kind of funny.
But it’s just a simple, easy way to get started if you don’t really know where to begin.
Another idea is to find a book in the Bible that you want to go through, that you want to know more, and get a journal or notebook, then slowly go through that book of the Bible, verse by verse or a few verses at a time. As you do, write down in your notebook what you hear it saying and either write out prayers or pray to the Lord about what you read. If you’re reading about this last verse, for example, the verse, “Don’t be anxious for anything,” you write out what that means to you and then your prayer would be. “ Dear Lord, help me not to be anxious. Help me to remember to pray to you about these things.” So, studying through the Bible can be and should be very practical to your daily life.
And in a situation like that, sometimes people are intimidated to go through a book of the Bible if they’ve never really started. But it doesn’t, really need to be intimidating. You’re going to have questions. Write those down and ask God, “Show me what this means.” If you have a question that you feel like someone you know might have an answer to, go and talk with them about it. Just take proactive steps in your relationship with the Lord to dig into His Word and to understand what He’s saying. Because remember what Moses said, it’s a danger if you’re not investing in God’s Word, if you’re not getting it into your life. That’s a danger for you, and it’s going to be a danger for your marriage as well.
And rely heavily on the Holy Spirit within you. Ask Him to give you understanding. He is there eagerly waiting to give you understanding.
What you’re going to learn is going to be helpful to you, whether it’s third grade level or seminary level. Your marriage, your Christian marriage, is only going to grow as both of you are pursuing the Lord personally. Then you’re able to come together and move in the same direction together with the same heart, the same desires, the same zeal. You’re able to build a marriage like Christ would have you build it.
So friends, focus on your relationship with the Lord. Find a time to spend in God’s word, reading it, praying to the Lord, learning to depend on Him, learning to ask Him for what you need to be a godly husband or a wife.
Simply find time to do that. It is your life. There’s nothing more important than that.
LISTEN SEPARATELY then set a weekly appointment to discuss what you’ve heard, pray about what God may want YOU to adjust or implement, then plan how you will do so.
LISTEN TOGETHER: Set a standing weekly date to listen together, pray over what you’ve heard, discuss, and strategize how to implement relevant things into your relationship.
DO THE HOMEWORK: The more you invest, the more you’ll grow and experience God’s blessings!