2017 READING CHALLENGE RECOMMENDATIONS
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Obviously, no one walks down the aisle and confesses, "I do," intending to fall into the lonely and disappointed half of the depressing divorce rate. Yet you know it happens. You have friends and family with failed marriages. And you probably have moments--when you are exhausted or discouraged by a painful coolness or conflict in your own marriage--when you wonder if divorce could happen to you.
There are so many ways a couple can struggle. Sometimes outside forces distract or exhaust them, leaving little time for shared fun or the long talks that promote togetherness. Difficult career situations, health issues, a personality clash with an in-law, an ongoing problem with a child, or financial struggles can drain away time and emotional resources.
Even more serious are the forces within the relationship that bring pressure to break a couple's commitment to lifelong partnership. Sometimes a couple struggle to get on the same wavelength in communication. Sometimes their backgrounds and personalities are so different, they can't find any common ground to build on. Sometimes conflicts break down into withdrawal or escalating tempers, rather than leading to mutually satisfying resolution. Sometimes past hurts leave scars and anger that affect a couple's intimacy. Sometimes one partner's struggle with an addiction (such as drugs, alcohol, or even sex) takes its toll on the marriage.
With all the things, from inside or from outside the relationship, that could go wrong, it's easy to see why so many relationships falter and fail. Could it happen to you?
You're not perfect--and neither is your spouse. Every person is a mix of personal strengths and weaknesses. And every human being struggles with self-centeredness, with an almost overwhelming temptation to look out for number one. It would be impossible to guarantee a divorce-proof marriage as long as sin and temptation exist in the world.
But God, the Creator of people and the inventor of marriage, remembers what marriage is supposed to be, and He's completely aware of our humanity. If you've never looked into God's Word, the Bible, as a resource for building your marriage, give it a try
The Bible lays out a firm foundation for marital faithfulness. God's faithfulness and unchanging character toward us become a pattern and source for the truest fidelity. One song of praise declares, "The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works" (Psalm 145:13). You can count on God's faithfulness; the promise is there for all generations: "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations" (Deuteronomy 7:9). In marriage, faithfulness means making our decisions reinforce our oneness. When fidelity means far more than simply avoiding adultery, the smallest choices come under scrutiny. If you spend money on something just for yourself without discussing it with your spouse, will that enhance or damage your oneness? Will your marriage be built by zoning out in front of the TV every night, or would it be better for the relationship to turn it off and talk and listen to each other? Should you share that private information about your marriage with a friend, or is it more "faithful" to keep it to yourself? True faithfulness plays itself out in the smallest everyday choices.
God provides the example of self-sacrificing forgiveness. He gave up His own sinless Son to die a sinner's death in order that we shouldn't have to receive the just punishment for the wrong things we have done. Any person who puts his hope in Jesus' sacrifice can come, forgiven, into relationship with God. And the person who has experienced that kind of forgiving grace is able to turn around and extend it to others. When you know you've been forgiven so much, it's easier to accept your spouse's need for forgiveness. The Bible especially instructs husbands to take Christ as the example of to-the-limit self-sacrifice: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Knowing every person's tendency to put self first, God says, "Let each of you love his wife as himself" (Ephesians 5:33) and "He who loves his wife loves himself" (Ephesians 5:28).
The Bible teaches that "God is love"--its pattern and source and resource (1 John 4:8). When you begin to pattern your behavior and relationships after Christ, with God's help, you will find extraordinary, supernatural resources for putting your spouse's needs before your own: "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). God's love for you individually becomes your reason for extending love to your spouse: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11). Marital superglue
Your own relationship with God could become the superglue that mends your marriage in its broken places, reinforces your marriage in its weak spots, and strengthens your marriage for whatever the future holds.
If you've never acknowledged your need for God, it's as easy as opening your mind and heart to Him through prayer. You might pray something like, "God, I am a struggling person who often has done what's wrong, and I know You are holy. Thank You for sending Jesus to cover my sins by dying in my place. I want You to become Lord (boss or controller) of my life and my relationships."
The Bible promises that you will find God when you seek Him wholeheartedly: "You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you" (Jeremiah 29:13- 14). Seek Him with all your heart, and let your relationship with God transform your marriage
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