Marital Spats and God’s Plan (Giveaway)

**Giveaway details at the end of the post!**

The day our premarital counseling workbook began addressing arguments, my husband and I were relieved. We have always been really good at arguing. It’s one of our unexpected spiritual gifts (ha!) We even told the pastor counseling us.

He was surprised.

Apparently, most couples get married believing they’ll always just get along or are caught up in love to the point that arguing has yet to cross their minds.

Not us. The Lord uniquely blessed us with plenty of practice disagreeing early on.

I mean it. The Lord gifted us with arguments.

My husband and I learned from the Lord Himself to argue well and to resolve issues to His glory. We have been taught to fight- for each other. The Lord has allowed us to experience strife- teaching us to strive to discern the Lord’s will despite our own propensities for sin.

Arguing can be to God’s glory too.

When we learn to disagree in a godly way, we learn to work in unity with the Lord to live according to His will. 

That’s what The Blessings of Unity by Richard Case is about. I really enjoyed the book’s no-nonsense approach to the topic.

Married to Linda for more than 45 years, Case offers Biblical insight into one of God’s primary commands for husbands and wives: to cleave to one another. Case puts the command in context: not only is cleaving in marriage important, but it is also part of the unity of the body of Christ.

As Case says on page 35, “unity is brought about by our desire to pursue God.” We ought to seek this sort of unity in Christ’s body as the church and as couples.

The Blessings of Unity provides comprehensive Bible study examining several angles and forms of unity. I’ve never encountered a topical marriage book so structured around passages of Scripture.

Each chapter addresses challenges and strategies for unity in the context of living by God’s Word.

Being aligned with the Holy Spirit is another main theme throughout The Blessings of Unity. Case explains: “The same one Holy Spirit in me is also in my spouse…our decisions can always go to unity with the Spirit when we are willing to hear what the Spirit has to say” (pg 42.)

Insightful points like these are packed in tightly.

If there is a criticism of this book, it is also a warning: The book is dense to the point of disorganization. You will find extensive, helpful, Biblical truth throughout, but you will have to work to put it all together in a memorable format for yourself.

I imagine spouses would benefit from reading the book individually and discussing it informally, as it’s not clearly organized for shared study. Retreat or study leaders are also likely to find essential truth in The Blessings of Unity, but should expect to create their own more organized materials for teaching and discussion.

Certainly useful and supported by substantial Bible lessons, The Blessings of Unity is an important reference guide for those involved personally or professionally in the work of more faithfully pursuing God through marital relationships.

Find a copy here.


GIVEAWAY of THE BLESSINGS OF UNITY:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post
  2. Be sure to include your email address in the private form for commenting
  3. Comment by 11pm EST Monday, November 21st.
  4. I’ll randomly select a winner on Tuesday, November 22nd and notify you by email if you won! You will then receive a free copy in the mail. 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


BONUS GIVEAWAY: All For Jesus eBook

If you’d like a practical 6-page eBook on living an unshakable life, you can grab it here.


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Facing the Big “What If”

I recently had the privilege of sharing a brief devotion with a bunch of teenage girls. Weeks in advance, when I asked the Lord what He might have me say, His answer was clear: “tell them they can pour it all out to me, they can always come to me.”

The Lord never gives you a lesson to share He isn’t also going to teach you through.

I kinda forgot that.

See, I talk to God all the time. But I don’t always talk to Him like He is who He says He is.

A few hours before I shared with the girls, He got my attention. Listening to those same girls, I began listening to the Lord about what I know goes on in their lives…and what I know will go on because they are humans living in the same fallen world I am.

They (and we) are going to face a lot of “what ifs” that plunder their prayers:

What if God never has me get married?

What if God never gives me or shows me my dream job?

What if God never makes me healthy again when I get sick?

What if God never heals the broken relationships I can’t fix myself?

What if I fail?

These are valid questions, and it’s alright to ask them. There is wisdom in preparing for many “what ifs.”

But the question of “what if” can also be a positive one.

What if God actually has plans for my life?

What if God is waiting to comfort me in my struggle?

What if God loves me more than the people in my life can and wants time with me too?

What if God is a confidant and an advisor?

What if God can lean in, listen, and embolden me like (or more than!) my best friends?

 What if we believe, when we speak to God, He is listening as lovingly, patiently, kindly, perfectly, gently, and honestly as He says is in His Word?

What if we believe

In Ephesians 6, Paul encourages believers to put on the armor of God. Then He goes on to say “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Prayer is included right there in the battle plan. But notice it fits in, bound to, other pieces of armor like salvation, righteousness, and faith. Notice how God speaks elsewhere about praying with a right heart, not for our own selfish ambitions (James 4:3.)

In other passages, God tells us we must ask and believe (Matt 21:22.)

What I’ve been convicted of is this: our prayers are plundered when we don’t believe or don’t recognize exactly who it is we’re talking to.

The best place for “what if” in prayer is “what if God is really listening, really cares, and has a perfect plan?” Because He is, and it changes things when we believe Him.

At very least, praying while believing God is who He is changes our perspective from desperately attempting to persuade God to resting in the blessed assurance of Christ.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: In

Seriously? A word study on a preposition? Yes and more yes!

Here’s why: “in” occurs twice in this verse:

“But you, dear friends,

by building yourselves up in your most holy faith

and praying in the Holy Spirit”

Jude 1:20

But each “in” is different.

(1) The first is a definite article of speech. AKA, this “in” is just highlighting the subject: the building of holy faith.

(2) The secondin” is indeed a preposition, and it pointedly explains our position in prayer.

To be “praying in the Holy Spirit” is to be

(a) in the condition of

(b) in realm of

(c) inside of, alongside of, within

When we pray in the Holy Spirit, we pray in the position of one whose condition is defined by that same Spirit. We pray from alongside the Spirit the Lord sent to help us. As we interact with God by praying in the Holy Spirit, we connect in the terms of His realm, His kingdom, and His will. That’s what Ifeoma was talking about in her post earlier this week.

Praying in the Holy Spirit isn’t so much a long distance call as it is sitting beside our Lord and simply conversing.

This “in” preposition is the same used to describe:

  • People being baptized in water = immersed in
  • A winnowing fork in the hand of God = held by
  • Sickness in people = filled with
  • Where God resides in the heavens = dwelling in
  • Speaking in parables = formed in
  • Having the Word sown in the heart = located in

Just take the verse and fill in with these italicized examples. For instance:

“Praying immersed in the Holy Spirit.”

in prayer word

In” is a basic word, but it speaks volumes about prayer and our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

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Praying that we would be so willing to let the Holy Spirit change our heart condition, set us in place, and come alongside us as we interact with God!

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Praying After Has a Purpose

Photo from: www.missiochurch.com

We pray before we eat. Before our days begin. Before we go to sleep. Often, we pray before big events and decisions. We pray as loved ones face difficulties. But we don’t have to stop there.

Keep praying after.

In our limited sense of time, that can feel futile.

Why pray about something that has already happened? Can the Lord change even that which is in retrospect? Is He sovereign over history when it’s already been written?

Yes.

History, it is often said, is life’s greatest teacher. To build better futures, we look at the past. So praying in retrospect makes sense.

Unlike “changers” in sci-fi movies that erase and replant memories, the Lord is in the business of changing hearts. And while that may not change history, it changes our perspective of it. That makes all the difference.

After you complete that nerve-wracking conversation, pray. Turn to the Lord. He can work in your heart to use that conversation for good. He does, after all, work all things together for the good of those who love Him according to His will and great purposes (Romans 8:28.)

He can also change the heart of the one you spoke to. Or the loved one who faced the tragedy. And even the course of that decision you made that you’re not so sure about.

It’s never too late with the Lord,

…and that should effect how we live in this world and how we relate to others. Forgiveness is all the more possible when we live in the truth of that fact: grace has no expiration date. Not between the Lord and any of us, and not between any of us at all.

So pray after it all goes crazy, it all goes well, and you have no idea how any of it could go anywhere. He remains faithful and above all.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.”1 Chronicles 29:11

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Pray First

Photo from: sapch.org

I remember when these words sounded limiting –were you ever in that place? Praying first…or really before anything at all, seemed so restrictive. It took up valuable time and energy. Praying first meant either doing something obligatory and then continuing in my own way or having to sit around and wait while time was a-wasting.

But these words have become sweet. Praying first is a blessing the Lord provides. When we really turn to Him in prayer, laying all before Him, there is a peace unlike any other that permeates our lives.

  • What if you never had to guess about the right answer?
  • What if you never had to wonder if you were doing the right thing?
  • What if you didn’t have your plans messed up because you waited to make them until the timing was right?
  • What if you never looked back in regret, believing you really disobeyed God in a decision?

These things happen when we pray first, and when we pray in line with His will. Think of all the verses the Lord gives to show us this truth.

To name a few:

 “…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

Scripture knows it, too. The peace of God, the kind of peace that guards us, keeps us, and changes our lives and hearts, that fills us when we present ourselves in prayer to the Lord.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” -1 John 5:14
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thessalonians 5:6-7

Put these two verses together. God hears us (indeed other verses say will give us anything) when we ask according to His will. God’s will for us is that, for one thing, we pray continually.

To be in His will, we need to be praying. To pray in His will, we need to be praying. (tweet this)

When we really pray –as in, going before the Lord and doing so to give His thoughts, Word, and ways priority in our lives- we hear Him. We get closer to Him. We find ourselves moved and led because we are in closer fellowship with one we can go to always. He’s also the best one to go to always. He’s God.

There’s a reason prayer gives us peace that transcends. It’s in prayer that we are nearest to Him, and He defines peace. He is eager to fill us with it and keep us there (Isaiah 26:3.)

Praying first puts the Lord’s will first. (tweet this)

It puts Him above ourselves, which keeps us where we ought to be- at the feet of Jesus, following Him along the perfect way. That makes it hard to get lost. It removes worries of missed turns and bad timing, replacing them with the perfection and grace of our Savior.

Pray first when you:

  • Get up in the morning
  • Face difficult tasks
  • Make decisions
  • Eat a meal
  • Enter a conversation
  • Spend time with someone you love
  • Get the feels (anger, joy, excitement)
  • Think you’ve got it handled
  • Begin routine tasks
  • Consider your relaxation and entertainment options
  • Start to worry
  • Make plans
  • Say yes
  • Say no
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