Staying When You Feel Like Leaving (4)

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders.”         Ps 55:22 TM

Give your marriage to God. The last word on the matter must be God’s Word! Seeking professional help is a good thing. But until you’ve transferred ownership of your marriage into God’s hands, you haven’t exercised your best option. You say, “What does handing my marriage over to God mean in practical terms?” It means two things: (1) You stop calling the shots—that’s God’s job. And you must get out of His way so that He can do His work unhindered. Your self-interest and need to control must bow to His will. As long as you insist on “being right” and “straightening out” your spouse, you will remain part of the problem. On the other hand, when you give the problem to God, He—not you—has the problem to work on! (2) You learn how to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2Co 5:7). When things feel out of control you will want to resume ownership of the problem. Don’t do it, or the result will be more of what doesn’t work. Renew your decision to allow God to have control and work in both of your hearts. “Walk by faith,” not by feelings. The Psalmist puts it this way: “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.” When you trust God to handle it, three things happen: (a) You experience peace; (b) your partner’s resistance will likely diminish because you’re no longer stirring the pot; (c) God goes to work: “He who began a good work in you [both] will bring it to completion” (Php 1:6 ESV).

Psalm 119:49 Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.

Whatever your especial need may be, you may readily find some promise in the Bible suited to it. Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? Here is the promise-“He giveth power to the faint.” When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser, and ask Him to fulfil His own word. Are you seeking after Christ, and thirsting for closer communion with Him? This promise shines like a star upon you-“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this-“Lord, Thou hast said it, do as Thou hast said.” Are you distressed because of sin, and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words-“I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will no more remember thy sins.” You have no merit of your own to plead why He should pardon you, but plead His written engagements and He will perform them. Are you afraid lest you should not be able to hold on to the end, lest, after having thought yourself a child of God, you should prove a castaway? If that is your state, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: “The mountains may depart, and the hills may be removed, but the covenant of My love shall not depart from thee.” If you have lost the sweet sense of the Saviour’s presence, and are seeking Him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: “Return unto Me, and I will return unto you;” “For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.” Banquet your faith upon God’s own word, and whatever your fears or wants, repair to the Bank of Faith with your Father’s note of hand, saying, “Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.”

Live to Bless, Not to Impress

No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.” — Leviticus 16:17

The portion for this week is a double reading, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, from Leviticus 16:1—20:27means death, and Kedoshim means holy. The from Amos 9:7

A question I often ask myself is: “Who would I be if no one was looking?” The reason this question is so important for us to ask once in a while is because it helps us to check how authentically we are living our lives. Would we say things we don’t say if we weren’t worried what others will think? Would we not say certain things if there was no one to please? Or even, do we do the good things we do because these acts impress others, or do we serve and contribute from a place of sincerity and integrity?

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This was the High Priest’s day to shine. The whole nation looked to him to free them from their sins and bring atonement. Yet, while all eyes were on the High Priest, the Bible commanded: “No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out . . .” The main part of his service had to be performed in utter seclusion. No one could witness the service of the High Priest, “no one is to be in the tent” with him. It was a completely private encounter.

The purpose of this directive was to keep the High Priest grounded in authentic service. If he were to perform his service in front of the whole nation, he might be tempted to feel pride. He might get caught up in how people looked at him with honor, awe, and respect. This would detract from his worship of God and could even turn into worship of self. By telling the High Priest that he had to be alone when he performed the service, God was teaching him to see himself as the only person in the world, to have a mentality that whatever he did was purely for God’s pleasure and not at all connected to pleasing others. It was only him and God. It would free him from the need to impress so that he could focus on his duty to bless.

This attitude can benefit us all when we’re choosing how we spend our lives. Too many people live their lives for other people and miss out on what God has truly put on their heart. I once read an anonymous quote that really drives home this point: “Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.” Let us all live lives of meaningful contribution, even if not a single person notices.

God notices.

Staying When You Feel Like Leaving (3)

“Pray then like this…your will be done.”         Mt 6:9-10 ESV

Here are another two helpful keys to resolving marriage conflict: (1) Let God direct your prayers. Prayer can be closed-ended or open-ended. When we think that our perspective is the only accurate one, we pray closed-ended prayers calling on God to solve the problem our way, believing it’s the only correct way. But closed-ended praying produces two problems. First, it locks us into rigid thinking and blinds us to other perspectives. Second, it keeps us from seeing God’s perspective, the one that can heal and restore the relationship. Open-ended praying asks God to solve the problem His way. “Pray then like this…your will be done.” Ask God to reveal His will to you both, wait until He does, then pray accordingly. The Bible says: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us…we know that we have what we asked of him” (1Jn 5:14-15 NIV). (2) Remove the conditions from your love. Sound difficult? Love is a biblical command, not an arbitrary emotion. God’s not asking you to feel warm and fuzzy, He’s asking you to act in a loving way. Wouldn’t that be hypocritical? No, it’s rising above resentment, hurt, and fear, and practicing real faith. It means asking yourself: “If I were loving unconditionally right now, what would I be doing? How would I be responding to my spouse?” Then do it. The Bible says, “Love never fails” (1Co 13:8 NIV). You can lovingly act your way into a new way of feeling for both you and your spouse.

Psalm 67:6 God, even our own God.

It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is “our own God,” we apply ourselves but little to Him, and ask but little of Him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, “I am thine, soul, come and make use of me as thou wilt; thou mayst freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome.” It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God. Then, since thou hast such a friend, and He invites thee, draw from Him daily. Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest-there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, He can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to Him, tell Him all thy wants. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a “sun;” if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a “shield,” for He is a sun and shield to His people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use Him as a “guide,” for He will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that He can do all thou wantest.