Experiencing God’s comfort

If you’re like me, sometimes you desperately need to sense God’s presence.  When my relationships are challenged and I’m not “feeling the love” from my husband or family, I so need to sense God’s love and his comfort.  The good news is that God promises to hold us when we cry out to Him!  In Isaiah 51:12, God says “I, even I, am he who comforts you.  Who are you that you fear mere mortals?”

However, it’s not like I can literally see him or reach out and grab his hand, so how can I take advantage of the comfort that He promises me?  Well, I take a clue from King David.  In Psalm 63:2, he says to God “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.”   I believe David is talking about God giving David a vision of himself as David was worshipping. 

I’ve tried this and it is a marvelous thing!  I enter a time of praising God, with or without music, and then I ask God to help me envision myself being in His presence in perhaps his throne room or maybe in a beautiful mountain meadow beside a pristine brook.  Why don’t you try this right now?  Close your eyes, voice thankfulness and praise to God, and then ask Him to allow you to see yourself with Him in a particular setting.  Can you sense His presence?  Do you sense His great love for you?  Can you feel His comfort?  Do you sense the warmth of His love?

If you’re struggling to experience God’s comfort, let me just say that you MUST believe that God will indeed reveal his comfort to you.  Have faith that you will sense God’s comfort.  Remember, your faith that God will fulfill his promises is vital.  James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord”

3 ways to fall back in love

It’s so easy for a married couple to become more like roommates than lovers!  Once the excitement of the wedding and honeymoon fade away, the everyday stresses like finances, children, housework, etc. can start to suck that warm and fuzzy feeling right out of your marriage!  Well, here are 3 things that will help to rekindle that loving feeling:

1)  Start to do the things you used to do when you were dating.  In the Bible’s book of Revelation, the church in Ephesus received this rebuke, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”   That church needed to get back to doing the things that kept them in close fellowship with Christ, and we need to do the same things in our marriage.  Did you go to the movies?  Did you go out to dinner once a week? Did you go snowboarding in the winter or hiking in the summer?  Then, carve out some time to have that kind of fun with your husband now! 

2)  Kiss your husband with passion (like you used to)!  Seriously.  Give it a try and see if some sparks start to fly.

3)  List at least 7 good things about your husband.  Philippians 4:8 says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”     So, think of as many positive things about your husband as you can.  Write them down.  Look at that list every day.  As you do so, your heart will become warmer toward him.

Avoiding landmines in second marriages

Pretty much anyone who has entered the arena of blended families and step-parenting knows that it is like trying to walk across a field of landmines.  Typically, the biggest problem is that the step-parent thinks the step-child should love and respect them just like they would their biological parent.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.

Here’s the best piece of advice I ever heard on this subject.  As the step-parent, take the time (perhaps years!) to sow nothing but love into the relationship with your new stepchild.  Resist the desire to step in as disciplinarian and let the biological parent handle that.  As a couple, talk with your spouse behind closed doors about how “situations” and discipline should be handled, but then let the biological parent actually carry it out.

The idea of sowing love into a person before expecting that person to love you in return is actually demonstrated by Jesus.  The Bible says “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  We need to model this as step-parents.  Your step-child needs to see you demonstrate love for a sustained period of time before believing you actually have their best interests at heart.  This may truly take years, especially if the child is over the age of about 5 when you first enter the new marriage.  Be patient.

If your heart is growing hard toward him…

I know what it’s like for a wife’s heart to grow hard and cold toward her husband.  I let that happen in my first marriage of 18 years…a marriage that ended in divorce.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for!

In my experience, the reason a wife’s heart grows cold usually comes down to two things.  She has not established firm, clear boundaries on disrespectful or destructive behavior…or she has expected her husband to make her happy and blames him for failing to do so.  Could one of these reasons apply to you?

Boundaries:  It is Biblical to lovingly confront someone who is sinning against you and establish boundaries in that relationship…with the goal being that the person will repent and be welcomed back into full relationship.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 to learn what Jesus has to say about this.  Also keep in mind Galatians 6:1, which says. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”

Expectations:  If you expect your husband to make you happy, realize you have an unrealistic expectation!  The only one who you can trust 100% to bring you fulfillment, joy, and perfect love is….the Lord!  Make the relationship with Him your top priority, and once you feel secure in that relationship, your heart will likely become softer and more compassionate toward your husband.

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One of the best things for your kids

If you love your children, one of the MOST important things you can do for them is to keep your marriage healthy and intact!  Not to scare you, but the research regarding children from divorced families is alarming.  Perhaps this is one reason the Bible says in Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce”.  God knows the devastating impact of divorce on children’s lives.

Research by Focus on the Family has found that teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.  Also, kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.  Plus, research from the Heritage Foundation found that children of divorced parents perform more poorly at school and have higher drop-out rates.

Yes, God can heal a child’s heart following a divorce, but the scars will remain.  So, work hard to keep your marriage healthy and strong.  Pray every day for your husband and pray daily for marriage guidance from the Lord.  See a counselor if you guys are fighting a lot or if you are growing increasingly resentful.  Don’t let your heart grow hard.  Fight for your marriage.  Your kids will thank you!

How to develop true love for God

Many Christians are familiar with the verses in Matthew 22:37-38 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment.   Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 

Well, I’ve been asked lately about how to develop this actual love for God.  You see, it’s very difficult to truly love someone you’ve never experienced.  You and I must experience the Lord’s power and love for ourselves in order to truly fall in love with Him.  Otherwise, we have head knowledge from the Bible, but no heart knowledge!

Looking back at my own journey with Christ, I realized that I’ve grown to truly love Him as I earnestly sought His help through prayer and then saw Him answer those prayers in loving and powerful ways. I experienced God!

 So I urge you to begin seeking the Lord with your whole heart.  Come to Him with your deepest needs, but make sure you’ve done your best to obey Him first.  After all, God says in James 5:16 that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”.  So, in other words, God powerfully responds to the person who truly seeks to obey His commands and follow His promptings.  After you’ve done all you can do to obey the Lord, pray earnestly for His help.  When He shows up, take notice!  God just connected with you and allowed you to experience His love, power and help!  Now, you have heart knowledge of the Lord!

What your hubby needs to feel loved

You’ve probably heard of the “Five Love Languages”.  It’s something Christian author and psychologist Gary Chapman figured out about how people are wired in terms of receiving love.  The love languages are:  words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.  Well, here’s something I’ve learned after talking with many wives whose husbands have completed the love language assessment.  Almost all men have “physical touch” as one of their top 2 love languages.

Ladies, this means your husband craves not just sex, but little signs of physical affection throughout the day.  When you do these small things, he feels loved by you.  So, why wouldn’t you give him the physical affection that you know would bless him?  By withholding what he needs to feel loved, we’re actually sinning!  James 4:17 says, “If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Here are several ideas on how you can communicate love through physical touch.  Reach out to hold his hand as you walk through the store.  Give him a 20 second neck and shoulder rub as you’re walking by.  Pinch his tush as he walks through the kitchen.  Lean over his shoulder while he’s on the computer and give him a kiss.  Rest your hand on his leg while you’re sitting together on the couch watching TV.  These small acts of physical touch are totally easy and yet they mean so much to most husbands. Try it!

How to receive comfort from the Lord

We all inevitably go through stretches in our marriages (or with kids, finances, health, etc!) that are pretty rough on our hearts.  Yes, we can persevere, pray, and trust in God during those times, and all those things are super important.  But sometimes, we just plain need comfort.  We need to sit in the lap of our heavenly father and have Him hold us tight.

Here is what I have discovered.  Reading the Psalms slowly and out loud is like a warm embrace from my heavenly Father.  As those words roll off my lips, I can almost feel His love and compassion flow over me.  I sense the tenderness of His heart toward me.  I gain hope once again.

Try it for yourself.  I would suggest some of these Psalms:  Psalm 103, Psalm 91, Psalm 34, and Psalm 37.   God longs to comfort you.  He loves you.  As Psalm 103 says, “Our Father is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.