Monthly Archives: May 2021

Devoted love

There are many ways we show devotion to the people we love, such as our family and close friends. We take the time to check in on them, do things together, encourage them and lend a listening ear. Similarly, there are many ways we show our devotion to the things and hobbies we love. We steward them with care, collect them, restore them and even profit off of them, even if just from the joy!

But, have you asked yourself how you show devotion to your spouse and to your marriage? Devoted love comes from the center of our hearts. It isn’t something that can be faked very easily for very long. If I am truly devoted, my love for my spouse won’t change, no matter what comes our way. We may endure seasons of struggling with our feelings of love for one another, but our devoted love will keep us united as one while we endure such seasons. We will often remind ourselves of the deep and loyal love we have had for one another since the beginning of our relationship.

Yet, sometimes being devoted to a person is easier than being devoted to a thing, such as the commitment of marriage!

If I am truly devoted to my marriage, my commitment to the marriage won’t change, no matter what comes our way. We may endure financial struggles, issues with raising teenagers, the loss of a career, serious health issues or issues with trust or infidelity, but our commitment to the marriage will keep us united as one while we endure such seasons. We will often remind ourselves of the deep and loyal love we have for Christ and for the covenant of marriage that He created for us. We do our best to be humble.

How can you start to show devoted love to your spouse and to your marriage? Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  • Prioritize; God first, then spouse/marriage (By placing God first, your heart is open for your spouse)
  • Serve one another
  • Be attentive to each other
  • Show affection in private and in public
  • Be a team and act as team members in ALL things (yes, this includes changing dirty diapers)
  • Affirm your spouse (to them and in front of others)
  • Create boundaries that protect your marriage
  • Be wise in choosing your outside influences; keep your spouse in mind

Don’t you want to be as devoted to your spouse as you are to your dearest friend? This is what the Bible has to say:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Romans 12: 9-10 MSG

We would love to hear the ways you show devotion to your spouse and to your marriage. Please comment below!

Praying as One

Do you and your spouse pray together?

One of greatest things we get to do as Christians is pray. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to develop an intimate relationship with Him where we can talk to Him with complete openness and vulnerability. As such, prayer becomes an individual routine or practice. When we get married, we maintain many of our personal routines. However, we believe that praying with your spouse, or marital prayer, is an important part of deepening your own personal relationship with Christ and a routine that needs to be developed together. Every married couple should incorporate praying together into their daily marital routine.

Unfortunately, Tim and I did not have the habit of praying together as part of our marital routine for the first decade of our marriage. Sure, we prayed at dinnertime and sometimes before bed with the kids, but it was more of an afterthought and not the kind of intimate prayer I am referring to. We had no idea what we were missing by not having this in our daily life together.

After we started attending church regularly and were experiencing some marital strains, a fellow Christian friend asked us about our prayer life together. Gulp! Were we supposed to be actually praying, like aloud, with one another? We had not been doing that. If prayer is so personal, then why would we need to pray together as a couple?

In the Bible, James describes why we should pray for one another:

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

James 5:16 NLT

We all are in need of some amount of healing as far as our marriages are concerned. In a union of two people, things will get messy at one point or another. Ugly words and regrettable actions come from each spouse, whether we are prepared for them or not. Praying together petitions healing to occur within our marriage. So, what does it look like to pray together practically?

Let me give a quick example of how we started praying together as a couple. One afternoon, we were in the car having a discussion over something insignificant that led to an argument. As the tension grew, and my heart began racing, I could sense that this argument was leading to nowhere quickly! I knew now was the time to try this “praying together thing” our friend had mentioned. I asked Tim to pull over and stop the car. Reluctantly, he pulled off of the road and stopped the car. I immediately grabbed his hand and said we need to stop talking and pray, right here and right now. Admittedly, it was awkward praying together like this in the midst of an argument in the middle of the day. But, all things are possible with God, including this.

What do you think happened when we stopped to pray in the midst of heated fellowship? Both of our hearts were immediately softened and our focus shifted to the Lord instead of on our issue. Rather than trying to prove the validity of my side of the argument, I began to pray for resolution and most of all, I prayed for my husband’s feelings, in front of him. Not only did this show him love, honor and respect, it helped me to validate his view over my own view. I wasn’t worried about saying the right things in front of him and I wasn’t embarrassed to outwardly express my love for him in the form of a prayer.

Scripture also tells us the importance of inviting the Holy Spirit into your prayer life, especially when we don’t know what to pray for:

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[a] in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 NLT

By praying together, we invited the Holy Spirit into our problem and He gave us peace in the midst of it all. Praying together has become a staple in our marriage over the second decade of our marriage. It is the part of the Armor of God that we clothe ourselves in daily (Ephesians 4:6-18).

According to the Bible, when you get married, you are to become one flesh with your spouse. The deep level of intimacy you experience by praying with your spouse helps you achieve oneness.

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 NLT

Tim and I refer to this as the marital sanctification process. As we become one flesh, we are constantly being stripped of our selfishness and of the “ugly” parts of our personality that don’t mesh well with being fully committed to another human being. The trials we face together as a couple help us in the sanctification process, for ourselves and for each other in unity. Our goal in marriage should never be to fulfill our own desires, but rather, to become more like the spouse Jesus commands us to be. It means to become more like Jesus in our every day walk. The deep level of intimacy that is gained from becoming one flesh is an ultimate expression of the love God has for us, because we are filled with the Spirit. Praying to become one flesh together draws the Lord into your marriage.

The next time you and your spouse aren’t on the same page and you get stuck out of unity with one another, stop everything and pray together. If you can’t pray in person together, pray over the phone together. Submit your differences to God in the form of prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to be the mediator. Also practice praying together when you are in sync with your spouse. The Lord welcomes your praises and rejoices with you!

Love has a name…

What do you think of when you hear the word love? Do you immediately think of the love you have for your spouse, child, parent or pet? Or do you think of your favorite food, vacation spot or hobby? Is your love for God the same as your love for anyone or anything else?

The world defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection or a great interest and pleasure in something. When we feel strongly for someone or something it is easy to spout off statements like “I love you just the way you are” or “the love of my life is the sport of soccer.” But, truthfully, do we feel this intense love when our spouse is acting unloving towards us? Will we always love the sport of soccer, even if the star athlete falls from grace and the team is ousted by culture somehow? Will we love God like this even if the hardest imaginable suffering comes upon us in our lives?

Love, as defined by the world, is a slippery slope, wouldn’t you agree? Our love for others (or things) is conditional and always changing and often is replaced by someone or something we feel more love towards. Think about it- what (or whom) did you claim to love 5 years ago that you no longer have deep affection for or great interest in?

The Bible defines love much differently than the world does. Love is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times, no matter which translation you are reading. God has much to say on the subject of love through His word, including how to love and what to love and what not to love.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I want to be more loving towards others and I don’t want to be misled into loving the wrong things! The less strife and more love I experience in my life, the more peace I have in my life. If there is roadmap for how to give and receive love, sign me up! I can confidently say that the Bible is the only instruction manual you will ever need on love, as it never changes and is always applicable in our relationships.

Scripture outwardly and definitively defines love as God.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them

1 John 4:16 NLT

But, what does it mean to abide in God? To abide means to observe, follow or adhere to without yielding, as opposed to dwelling for a current period of time. This speaks directly to the constant and unchanging nature of God’s love for us. God’s love for us is unconditional (known as agape love). Even in our ugliest of moments, there is One who doesn’t turn His back on us…ever.

God commands that we love one another.

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

John 15:12 NLT

This is a powerful commandment that is not a suggestion, but an instruction! I am to love others with the same love that Jesus has shown me. Ouch! This can be quite convicting! If I am feeling or showing contempt for someone else because of something said or done, I have to ask myself if I would want that same contempt held for me by God based on some word or action of mine?

God describes love in action.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NLT

I can evaluate my circumstances and my behavior through this lens and it will reveal how loving I am being. I might be great at being patient with my spouse, but horrible with keeping score of his wrongdoings. It is in these horrible places that I can learn to cultivate my true love for others, in the way God instructs me to. I need to be patient and forgiving of past wrong-doings, as patience alone may not be enough for me to release any built up bitterness. This scripture also provides a way to sustain a loving relationship. We must never give up and we must endure even the toughest of circumstances with love. This is how we know that God’s love is never-ending. This is also the way that God shows His love for us.

God shows us how love is sacrificial.

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Ephesians 4: 2-3 NLT

We know that it is sacrificial to be married. You are giving up half of yourself for another person in a committed relationship. You know that you will not always get your way. But, is it sacrificial to be humble when being criticized by your spouse? Yes, because typically, we naturally feel the need to defend ourselves to others and we often voice this feeling.

If my spouse tells me that I haven’t been very respectful towards him lately, and I respond by listing all of the instances I recall where I have been respectful, then I am not being humble (or respectful)! I am telling him that his perspective is not valid. Thus, a sacrificial response would require humility, or the ability to see myself as not so important or not so right. Instead, I can keep silent, listen, and then constructively apply the criticism to my life. I will experience personal & spiritual growth and maturity. My relationship with my spouse will grow deeper, as will my relationships with others. The sacrifice is giving up my natural tendency to be right for the love of another. You show love when you listen and choose peace over being right. You respond with humility when you are being loving.

Tim and I love marriage and we love helping other married couples on their marriage journey, which is why we created Marriage Sanctified. We believe that we can help others through our own triangular marital experiences with Jesus. But, most of all, we love Jesus and we want others to love Jesus like we do. We personally have experienced what Jesus has done in our own lives as individuals, as a married couple and as a family with our sons. We want others to experience what Jesus can do in their lives too.

We chose this as our first blog post because in order to love your spouse, you must first love God. You must love his Son Jesus and accept Him as the Lord of your life and as your personal savior. You must then make Him the Lord over your marriage. This is the best insurance you can get to cover the multitude of sins that will become part of your marriage, at one point or another. The blood of Jesus covers a multitude of sins!

If you have not accepted Jesus as your personal savior, we would love to share with you what this means. Please be sure to subscribe with your e-email address so we can share this news with you and pray with you!

When you understand the magnitude and depths of love that God has for you, you will also understand how to love your spouse and others like Him.

Love indeed has a name- His name is Jesus!