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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 4:9’

(This post is in response to a friend who asked, “Could you write about how to deal with those little aggravations that cause such trouble in our marriages?”  Here are my thoughts!)

Tremendous trifles–that’s what my sociology professor called the irritating habits of spouses that can drive us crazy.  Things like…

  • Allowing odds and ends to pile up on the kitchen counter, and never putting them away
  • Leaving lights on in vacated rooms
  • Hitting the snooze alarm five times before actually getting up
  • Checking messages during a dinner-date
  • Rarely being ready to leave the house on time

Tremendous trifles present choices, don’t they.

1.  We  can  choose our attitudes.

Will we dwell on the negative or will we focus on the positive qualities of our spouses?

Paul’s advice about our thought-lives (Philippians 4:8) can be applied to how we think about our spouses:

“You’ll do best by meditating on things noble…the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, The Message).

Years ago, I completed a Bible study on marriage,  specifically written for wives.  The author recommended writing down all the positive traits of one’s husband.  I surprised myself by filling a page with more than a dozen qualities I admired about Steve.  As I wrote, my heart filled with refreshed love for the generous, thoughtful, hard-working man God has given me.

That familiar scripture above is accompanied by a promise, which also applies to marriage:

[Meditate on the best], “and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into most excellent harmonies” (v. 9, also from The Message).

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect marriage?  Two people blending together in perfect harmony!

2.  We can choose our responses.

Will we complain every time a light is left on?

Or, might the best choice be to just turn off the lights ourselves?

Yes, flipping a switch is a no-brainer for some folks, but for others—the creative and/or problem-solving types?  They seem to struggle with such mundane matters. Turning off the lights just isn’t in their skill-set, no matter how much they may want to remember.

So if saving electricity is important to you, it may be wise to flip those switches yourself.

Your motto can be:  “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8b)!

3.  We can choose to discuss the issue.

Does that mean we blast away when the pressure builds?

Or, will we ask the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation and provide wisdom and grace to share honestly but kindly?

Begin with a careful choice of time and place.   It’s best to discuss important matters when both parties are well-rested and well-fed.  A private location is also a must.  Perhaps the corner booth of a pleasant restaurant would offer a setting conducive for  heart-to-heart conversation.

And then limit the discussion to one matter.  An overload of negativity will sabotage the discussion.

Try a praise-then-prompt approach.  That’s a teacher-tip I learned in college, but it works in any conversation when you want to present a serious request.  Share with the other person at least several traits you appreciate.  Then ask if it would be possible for him/her to turn out the lights!

Each choice above gives us the opportunity to express our love the First-Corinthians-Thirteen Way.

Love is patient (when the clutter-pile grows),

Love is kind (when the mirror is splattered),

It is not rude (when she finishes your sentence),

It is not self-seeking (when he wants to watch a football game),

It is not easily angered (when the cupboard doors are left open–again),

It keeps no record of wrongs (when she leaves the sponge in the sink–again).

Love always perseveres.

It takes perseverance for a stable, mutually fulfilling relationship to grow.   Happily-ever-after marriages  don’t just happen.   They are created carefully, moment by moment–in the choices we make.

(photo and art credits:  www.homelifesimplified.com , http://www.lifestyle.ca.msn.com , www,jagran.com , http://www.justalittlebreezy.com )

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I love words. I love the rhythm of syllables, like automaticity or higgledy-piggledy.

I love the precise images words can create: glam-shackle house, iridescent skin, aquamarine waters.

I thought about water

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

And some words I love for their depth of meaning.

LEARN is just such a word. (Leave it to this former teacher to notice the word LEARN!)

When curious about a word and its nuances of meaning, a good place to begin research is with the dictionary. LEARN means: 1) to gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through study or experience, 2) to fix in the mind, 3) to become informed.

Those definitions certainly describe the LEARNing that is part of the Christian life. God wants us to:

• Gain knowledge of Him and His Word (Psalm 9:10; 119:24)
• Comprehend His ways for us (Psalm 25:4)
• Seek mastery over selfish impulses (Romans 13:14)
• Keep focused on Him (Psalm 141:8)
• Become informed about what pleases Him (Ephesians 5:10).

And God promises blessed dividends as we LEARN, like contentment, joy, and fulfillment in life. But how do we accomplish all this LEARNing?

A bit of research produced the following steps that also form an acronym of L.E.A.R.N.

L = Laws. “I will praise you with an upright heart as I LEARN your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:7). God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible, lays out the way to a rich, satisfying life. A wise person LEARNs all he/she can, because the Author is 100% trustworthy. He will never lead us astray.

Reading the Christmas Story

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

E = Effort and Experience. “Continue in what you have LEARNed and have become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14a). What we learn from God’s Words we put into practice. Yes, it takes effort, but as our experience grows, so will our resolve.

I’m reminded of how I feel before my work-out most days. I hate exercising. But like so many distasteful tasks, getting started is the hardest part. Once I’m into the routine, it’s easier (not easy, just easier!) to keep going. The results of regular exercise are what motivate me: 1) The strength and energy I feel. 2) My back doesn’t give me as much trouble. 3) Moderately-firm flesh trumps flabby!

Exercise

Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

You see, I’ve LEARNed that effort (to exercise) leads to experience (the results are worth the effort). The same holds true in the spiritual realm. As I make the effort to apply God’s Word to my life, the experiences prove God’s way is best. And I like the results—the peace, joy, and contentment mentioned earlier.

Am I successful every day to apply God’s truth? No. But I take great encouragement from Philippians 1:6: The God who began this good work in me will keep at it and bring it to completion when Jesus returns.

A = Acclamation. “Blessed are those who have LEARNed to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15). Practice acclaiming—enthusiastically approving—your God. We can establish several “interludes of gratitude” into our daily routines—even leave notes here and there as reminders. Whatever it takes. According to the verse, great blessing awaits!

R = Righteousness. “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous man and he will add to his LEARNing” (Proverbs 9:9). The more we LEARN, the more teachable we become. LEARNing accelerates. It gets easier.

I remember looking at my grandmother with admiration. She seemed perfect to me. How does she do it, I wondered. No doubt it came through years of attention to God’s Word, effort that produced experience, and much acclamation for her God.

Grandmother

Grandmother (Photo credit: Samantha Steele)

N = Notice. “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you…Whatever you have LEARNed or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice” (Philippians 3:17; 4:9).

Paul was not claiming to be a perfect. Back in verse 12 he had made clear, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” Paul, too, was LEARNing.

But his life of passionate pursuit after Christ-likeness was a worthy pattern to follow.

Perhaps there is someone in your family, church, or small group that would make a good role model. Look to him/her and LEARN.

And why is all this LEARNing about God’s Word and godly behavior worthwhile?

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). To flourish in my soul, to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, to rest in trust—these are the ends that more than justify the means of LEARNing.

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