Day 5: Does Parenting Ever Really End?

Read: Ruth 1Ruth 2Ruth 3Ruth 4

  • Are your children grown and out of the house?
  • Married with their own families?
  • Are you an empty nester and wondering what’s next?

Whatever our stage in life, our ministry is never over, and there is no better example than the life of Naomi.

Naomi lost everything, even her husband (Ruth 1:3) and both of her sons (Ruth 1:5). A devout Jewish woman, Naomi was left with two Moabite women in her charge. Heading back home she encouraged them to also go back home. She had nothing for them. One left and returned to her people. The other, Ruth, “clung” to her, pleaded with her to let her stay, and at that moment, accepted her God.

A mother’s work is never done, and even when your kids are grown and gone […] God still has a plan for the wisdom and care He’s built in you.

What a witness Naomi’s life must have been. Ruth refused the opportunity to return home. She turned from her religion and accepted the God of Israel. This must have brought joy to Naomi, through her grief, as she made a bold move and continued to disciple this young woman.

Neither knew their future as they set out to Judah. But, Naomi knew it was her calling to shepherd Ruth toward three keys of wisdom:

  1. Wisdom for protection by instructing her how to work the field (Ruth 2:22).
  2. Wisdom about how to secure her future by “flirting” with Boaz (Ruth 3:1-4).
  3. Wisdom to have patience and wait for Boaz to do the right thing (Ruth 3:18).

A mother’s work is never done, and even when your kids are grown and gone, or perhaps you’ve outlived one or more of them, God still has a plan for the wisdom and care He’s built in you. Naomi received Ruth as her own daughter and eventually became the great-grandmother to King David.

Naomi pushed through the pain and the emptiness that often accompanies outliving loved ones to continue what God called her to do, and He blessed her beyond what could be imagined. Ruth and Boaz married and had a son named Obed. Naomi’s role wasn’t over. She took the baby and became his nanny (Ruth 4:16). The wisdom from her life with the Lord could now be shared with her grandchild.

Because Naomi remained a witness in her home …
… an unlikely woman, whose country represented temptation and trouble for Israel, believed and followed God.
… this unlikely woman, Ruth, married again and birthed a son.
… she became the great-grandmother to King David whose lineage eventually birthed Jesus.

Reflect:

  • How can Naomi’s story encourage you in your season of life?
  • Have you ever considered that there are other “children” that may need your wisdom to navigate a life lived in Christ?
  • What is one thing you can do today to start a journey to share wisdom with a new believer?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: Do You See What I See?

Wouldn’t it have been great if Eve had been the ideal role model for the modern woman? She was the first woman, first wife, and first mom, and yet she struggled with contentment. She lived in paradise with her husband, had direct access to God, and Satan still tricked her into believing that she needed more. God gives us everything we need and tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-26), yet we spend most of our lives fighting for contentment.

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He doesn’t always come as the obvious deceptor, but often as the snake in the grass that slithers into our circumstances planning to destroy our perspective. He wants us to see the way we fall short in comparison to those around us, stealing our joy, killing our contentment, and destroying our view of ourselves.

Eve knew what God told her about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Satan convinced her that God was holding out on her. When Eve “saw that the fruit of the tree was good … she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Remember who God says you are. 

Satan wants us to “see” our world differently than the way God designed it. He wants to attack our families as he did Eve’s. He wants us to compare ourselves to others and forget we are wonderfully made. He wants us to snap at our children instead of being slow to speak. He wants us distant from godly women that can hold us accountable as mothers and wives. Satan wants us to forget God’s truth. He wants us so focused on other things that we forget we are gifted, beloved, and adored children of the living God. It is the last thing he wants us to “see.”

Reflect:

  • Is there any part of your life you need help “seeing” God’s way?
  • Take a few minutes to encourage a mom today by reminding her of her true identity in Christ.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 2: Playing Favorites

As mothers, none of us would likely admit to having a favorite child, but many of us can look at our childhood and pinpoint the sibling we believed our parents loved most. A recent study released findings that the baby of the family is usually the favored child. While we can debate the validity of these findings, the Bible shows us the ramifications of parenting with favoritism.

Rebekah and her husband, Isaac, had favorites when it came to their twin sons. Esau, the elder, was Isaac’s favorite, and Jacob, the younger, was Rebekah’s favorite. Before Isaac died, he wanted to give his blessing to his eldest son. Rebekah, remembering that God had previously promised that the younger son would rule over the older son, schemed to help Jacob deceive his father and steal his brother’s blessing. Jacob then fled, fearing for his life, and was gone for years before the two brothers reunited (Genesis 27). Knowing her family so well, Rebekah knew exactly how to coach Jacob in the deception of Isaac in order to assure that her favorite son would indeed rule over his brother.

Favoritism, Redeemed Mistakes, and God’s Plan

1. God doesn’t have favorites.

Romans 2:11 says that God shows no favoritism. As hard as it may be for us to understand, God loves each of us the same. We are all His children, and He has good gifts in store for each one of us (James 1:17). When we model our parenting after the love God shows us, we love our children equally, showing no favoritism.

2. God can use our mistakes to accomplish His plan.

Rebekah used her role as a mother to “help” make sure God’s plan happened, and her “help” ended up causing years of separation between her sons. It’s tempting to want to help God with His plans for our lives, but God doesn’t need our help. He can use our mistakes to teach us great lessons and bring us closer to Him. Even if we stumble, God will pick us back up and guide us on the specific path that He has for each of us (Psalm 37:23-24).

Being a perfect mom is something we can never attain, but we can learn from stories of the mothers in the Bible and from other moms in our lives. We can be confident that God will love us with an unchanging love, show mercy by picking us up when we stumble and give us the strength to be the best mom to our children.

Reflect:

  • Take a few minutes to thank God for your kids and how He’s carefully crafted them.
  • Does favoritism keep you from loving each of your children just as God loves you?
  • Is there an area of parenting you need help surrendering to the Lord? Take some time to talk it through and ask God for help.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: What It Means for Two People to Become One

We are told from the outset that in marriage “two become one.” But with all the differences between you and your spouse, how is it possible to be unified in anything?

Think of all the elements working against a married couple. Our differences in preference and personality, upbringing and experience make chemistry practically impossible. Add to this the temptations and frustrations attacking marriage from every side. It’s a miracle that two people, so different, can come together on anything.

Thankfully, God made a way for couples to experience oneness in marriage. We become one flesh when we marry, but God doesn’t stop there. He graciously continues to unify our hearts and minds as we each grow in our relationship with Jesus.

As each person seeks to put off their old life and take on the mind and heart of Christ, God aligns our hearts and minds in marriage. Simply put, as we move closer to Jesus individually, we move closer to each other in marriage.

True intimacy in marriage is impossible without Jesus. Without Him, we are locked in a futile battle over preferences and personalities. With Christ at the center, we both change — not to become like our spouse, but to become more like Jesus. The old preferences and personality quirks give way to sacrificial love modeled by Jesus. In short, the path to marital intimacy is paved with the pursuit of our personal relationship with Jesus.

Without Jesus at the center, our differences only serve as a wedge between us. For example, is there a difficulty in your marriage? Before talking about this topic together, take your concerns to the Father through prayer. Watch God pull you together despite your differences. Watch God use your differences to complement one another.

You may still disagree on the issue, but with the proper perspective, the process of wrestling together will improve intimacy, not destroy it.

Question for him:

  • Read Ephesians 5:22-33. What are the specific areas in your marriage where you can “give yourself up” for your bride?

Question for her:

  • Read Ephesians 5:22-33. What are the specific ways you can show respect to your husband as he follows Jesus?

Questions to talk about together:

  • Read Ephesians 4:21-24 together. What does the process of “taking off the old” and “putting on the new” look like for you? How could this affect your marriage?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 8: A Mother of Faith

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it was all you thought about, talked about, and prayed for? Hannah knew that feeling, and she chose to respond with an attitude of humility and a heart full of faith. Hannah was a homemaker, wife, and believer in the Lord. But most of all, Hannah wanted to be a mother.

For years Hannah was not able to have children while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was able to have many. To make matters worse, Peninnah knew how badly Hannah wanted to have a child. She would taunt Hannah cruelly, rubbing it in, and never letting her forget that God had not given her what she wanted. Instead of lashing out or giving up, Hannah would pray fervently for the Lord to give her a son. She continued to worship God and pour out her heart to Him year after year as her family visited the house of the Lord at Shiloh.

One day, as Hannah was weeping and praying, she told God that if He would allow her to conceive a son, she would give him fully back to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). As she prayed and wept, Eli, the priest at the temple, noticed how distraught she was. After speaking with Hannah, Eli asked the Lord to grant her the desire of her heart.

This encouragement fueled Hannah’s faith, and soon after she and her husband returned home, she conceived and gave birth to a baby boy named Samuel. Hannah knew that this child was a gift from the Lord, and in faith, she kept her promise to Him. She took Samuel to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and gave him to Eli so that he could serve the Lord for the rest of his days. There, he grew up in the temple, learning to serve God, hear His voice, and eventually become Israel’s greatest judge. Samuel was the very one that God had prepared from the beginning to lead His people at this time in history.

What can we learn from Hannah as a mother?

God cares about your feelings, too.

Hannah knew that while she was infertile, her lack of self-worth could get the best of her, so she always made sure to confess her feelings to God. No matter what you’re waiting for, you can do the same. God loves you and wants you to know that you can come to Him with any need or desire. Like Hannah, we can pour our hearts out to God and have faith that He will give us His best at just the right time.

Your kids are on “loan.”

Hannah knew from the very beginning, even before Samuel was conceived, that he belonged to God. She understood that her bearing a son meant that she was being “loaned” a child from God to love. This is a game changer as a mom. If we could look at our children through the lens of this truth, it would help us see them for who they truly are: God’s child first, on loan for us to love and train to serve the Lord.

We can see that Samuel’s faith grew to reflect Hannah’s when we read his words in 1 Samuel 12:24, “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflect:

  • What great things has God done for you that you can thank Him for while you wait?
  • Part of God’s plan for Hannah was waiting for child-bearing years. It is easy to look at our outward circumstances, not realizing God needs it to happen this way.
  • What are you struggling to wait for? Pour your heart out to God and tell Him.
  • When Hannah faced opposition in her waiting, she chose a humble response. How will you respond as you wait?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 2: Tired of Feeling Misunderstood?

Read: 1 Peter 3:1-8

Remember back before you were married. What did you think it would be like?

We enter into marriage with expectations of the roles we’ll play and the kind of spouse our boyfriend or girlfriend will be. But what happens when life doesn’t turn out that way? Maybe you wish your husband was more involved with the kids or that your wife wasn’t so bossy.

For many couples, marriage looks more like a TV sitcom than the romantic comedy we dreamed about. He tries hard but he still feels like he’s the punchline of a joke, instead of her knight in shining armor. When she speaks she cringes because her voice sounds more like the nagging, wicked stepmother than the princess at the ball.

In the Bible, God shows us a picture of marriage unlike anything we see on TV. Couples are called to mutual submission, honoring each other’s strengths and showing grace for each other’s weaknesses. Rather than competing with each other, they support one another’s desires and dreams.

When Peter calls women the “weaker” partners, he’s not saying they are morally or intellectually inferior. He’s calling men to protect, respect, and serve their wives, to see them as partners in a culture where women were especially vulnerable to attack or abuse.

To women, Peter says, “do not give way to fear” (1 Peter 3:6). The fear that he’ll leave, or drop the ball, or do something wrong will always lead us to the most controlling versions of ourselves. To cultivate “a gentle and quiet spirit” takes courage. The courage to be vulnerable with your spouse, to listen when the Holy Spirit says, “Hold your tongue,” and to trust God to bring change in His time and His way.

Marriage in the Bible is a picture of mutual submission. Submission is a scary word in our modern world. But submission in the Bible is not abusive or domineering. It’s both partners willingly putting the other first out of love and respect for God and each other. It’s choosing to be united rather than being right.

Questions for him:

  • Would your wife describe you as understanding?
  • What’s one thing you could do to try to better understand her point of view?

Questions for her:

  • How much time do you spend focused on how things look rather than how things really are?
  • What’s one thing your husband complains about regularly? How could you take a step to change that thing today?

Questions to talk about together:

  • How is your marriage different than you thought it would be?
  • Ask each other, “What’s one way I could be a better spouse to you?”

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 4: Are You Winning Arguments in Your Marriage?

Read: Matthew 18:21-35Ephesians 4:31-32 , Proverbs 10:12

How often do you look at your spouse and think no one on the planet would agree with his or her point of view?

So many times, what started as a small disagreement quickly spirals into a fight, and neither of you wants to back down. But as hard as it is to accept, it is more important to be reconciled than to be right.

It is more important to be reconciled than to be right.

As Christians, we are called to forgive those who hurt us, whether that person is a total stranger or the person we sleep beside every night. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone, Jesus says, “… no not seven times, but 70 times seven.” Jesus’ point is that there isn’t a limit on forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22, NLT).

God never put a limit on the number of times He was willing to forgive us, and we are to do the same for others (Ephesians 4:32).

God forgives us not because we are forgivable, but because He loves us. We are His. Love is the key to forgiveness. In a marriage, sometimes you have to choose to love your spouse not because they are lovable, but because they are yours.

What does it look like to choose love in marriage? It means not reacting in the moment. It means holding your tongue when you want to speak your mind. It is committing to praying for your spouse. It is elevating your spouse’s needs over your own. It means choosing to forgive before your spouse asks for forgiveness.

Winning the argument is never worth losing the marriage. Unity in marriage isn’t the result of two perfect people living life. It’s what happens when two flawed people learn to forgive.

Question for him:

  • Is there anything you’re refusing to forgive your wife for?

Question for her:

  • Is there anything you’re refusing to forgive your husband for?

Questions to talk about together:

  • How is winning an argument different from resolving a disagreement?
  • What’s one way I can love you better when we disagree?
  • Finish this sentence: I know you’re sorry about _______ and I forgive you.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 3: Three Steps to Better Communication

Does it ever feel like you and your spouse speak completely different languages? You say one thing, your spouse hears another, and so begins an evening of arguing.

Marriage is a gift, meant to bring us joy, make us more like Jesus, and be a visible example of God’s love for His children. Communication is often the biggest obstacle to what marriage is intended to be.

So how do we change how we communicate?

1. It starts with you. 

It’s easy to point a finger at our spouse. Think about how often you start sentences, “If only you would …”

The end of that sentence might be an area of weakness for your spouse. But the truth is we can’t control our spouse’s actions. We can only control our own. Improving communication starts by turning that finger back on ourselves and asking the Lord to show us our own sin (Matthew 7:5).

2. Examine your heart.

What comes out of our mouths is an overflow of what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45). Chances are if you don’t like what you’re saying, or if your spouse doesn’t like what they’re hearing, the issue is in your heart, not your words.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

When we are in a relationship with God, His Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to change the way we communicate with our spouse.

Our conversations don’t need to be filled with anger, rage, slander, lies, or foul language (Colossians 3:8). Instead, as we follow Jesus and learn to take His attitude toward our spouse, we show grace for each others’ faults. We forgive one another, submit to one another, and love one another. It’s pretty easy to guess which behaviors will produce better communication between a husband and a wife.

Better communication doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a daily decision to choose loving God and loving our spouse over loving ourselves. But when we allow God to show us how to communicate, He will strengthen our marriages and be honored through them.

Questions for him:

  • Which behaviors from Colossians 3 do you see in yourself?
  • What do you want to see more of instead?

Questions for her:

  • Which behaviors from Colossians 3 do you see in yourself?
  • What do you want to see more of instead?

Question to talk about together:

  • What’s one thing I could start doing or stop doing to improve how we talk to one another?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 5: How to Keep the Friendship Alive

“I love you, and I like you.”

When was the last time you heard or said these words to your spouse? Falling in love seems to be the easy part of marriage. Liking each other on a daily basis can be much harder.

One reason couples drift apart is that they stop dating each other and having fun together. Chances are, you knew you were going to marry your spouse because you realized he or she was more than just another date. When you met your spouse, you found a mate.

Think about the differences between a date and a mate. You impress a date; you ask for help from a mate. You’re polite with a date; you’re honest with a mate. The friendship you share is part of the reason you fell in love in the first place, and time together keeps that friendship alive.

Proverbs 27:9 says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” Some of the happiest married couples don’t just love each other. They actually like and respect each other. This provides a place for honest, vulnerable conversation, and both spouses grow as a result of the other’s earnest counsel.

God did not bless us with a spouse just to have a roommate. He gave us someone to encourage and be encouraged by, someone to enjoy spending time with.

When we invest in our friendship with God and each other, we realize we are able to overcome even more together than we could alone (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). This is what Ecclesiastes means when it says, “two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Questions for him:

  • When was the last time you planned a date like you did when you first met?
  • What’s one thing on your mind that you haven’t talked to your wife about yet?

Questions for her:

  • How is your friendship with your husband different from your relationships with your girlfriends or your mother? How should it be different?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What are your favorite memories of dating or becoming friends?
  • What do you enjoy doing together? Schedule some time this month to make that happen.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 6: How are you serving your spouse?

When was the last time you considered your spouse’s feelings and needs first and served them without keeping score? There are many ways to say “I love you,” but one of the best is to serve one another.

Serving our spouses puts their interests above our own. This takes humility, patience, and a desire for unity (Philippians 2:3-4). Between chores, kids, and work, it’s easy to forget marriage is our first and most important ministry. In serving one another, we’ll find we’re moving toward the mutual respect and submission God wants for our marriages.

Marriage is the best representation we have of the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we willingly and sacrificially put each other first, we show the world what real, sacrificial love looks like.

Marriage shows the world what real, sacrificial love looks like. 

Submission in the Trinity is mutual, and the same is true in marriage. Wives are called to trust and respect their husband’s guidance and direction. Following his lead, even when we don’t agree, is a way of demonstrating our trust in God. Likewise, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, presenting her spotless and radiant, without blame or fault. Jesus loved the church so much that He gave up His life for her.

While Ephesians sets a pretty high standard, serving each other can start small. Serving your husband might mean listening to his day and encouraging him, instead of focusing on why he was wrong. Maybe it means learning to trust your husband’s opinions on the family finances.

Men, giving up your life for your wife can be as simple as listening to her vent or not mocking her yoga class. It can also mean taking extra work to provide for the family or making time to complete that never-ending honey-do list.

Selfless love and service reach the deepest crevices of the heart. If we want to show our spouses we love them, we start by serving and submitting to one another.

Questions for him:

  • What are three things you love about your wife?
  • How can you show her this week how much you love those things about her?

Questions for her:

  • Is there an area of your marriage where you aren’t trusting your husband’s input?
  • Where does that lack of trust come from?

Question to answer together:

  • Fill in the blank: One way you could serve me better is to _______.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 7: How to Be More Romantic

“Do you have a reservation?”

“Yes. Do you have a table ready for me and the girl of my dreams?”

Cue butterflies, batting eyelashes, and beaming smiles.

Romance makes moments like these possible, but real romance requires more than the fleeting feeling you get from holding hands while walking on the beach. Real romance is bigger than the butterflies after your first kiss. It ripens over time as you learn to pursue your spouse the way God pursues you.

What can we learn about romance from the way Jesus pursues us? A lot.

Love is an action.

First, we learn that love is an action. God loves us so much, He sent His one and only Son to pay the ultimate price for our true freedom (John 3:16). Jesus stepped out of heaven and took the form of a man to make a way for us to experience a perfect relationship with God. Jesus’ action stirs our affection for God and models extreme romantic pursuit.

Second, we learn that love involves sacrifice. Jesus willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin (1 John 3:16). His example is what inspires us to lay aside our preferences, pride, and selfish desires to pursue another.

As we pursue God’s heart and learn that He’s been romancing us all along, we find Him waiting, arms opened wide, full of affection, comfort, and sheer delight. As we experience God’s love in increasing measure, we can’t help but share it with our spouse.

Romantic interest sparks a desire to know more about a person. It’s something God designed for so much more than helping your partner feel special. It’s the hunger and thirst that tells our heart there’s always more to know and experience about each other.

Question for him:

  • What romantic things have you stopped doing that you could start doing again?

Question for her:

  • What’s the most romantic thing you and your spouse have ever done for each other?

Questions to talk about together:

  • How is God pursuing you right now? How have you seen Him pursue you in the past?
  • What’s one way I could show you love today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 8: Sex Is Sacred

God created sex, and it is good!

When God brought Adam and Eve together in the Garden of Eden for the first marriage ceremony, they were naked and had no shame (Genesis 2:25).

The Bible has a high view of sex in a covenant marriage between husband and wife. Hebrews 13:4 says everything about the marriage bed is pure and holy. So shame or awkwardness don’t belong there.

The Bible says to enjoy sex and dedicates an entire book, the Song of Solomon, to celebrating the sensual side of marriage — sometimes in explicit detail (Proverbs 5:18-19).

Sex is so important to a happy marriage that the apostle Paul warns spouses not to withhold sex or use it as a bargaining chip. Sex is so holy and good that only prayer can take its place, for a short, mutually-agreed upon season (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

As with all good gifts from God, sex is under constant attack by the enemy. Whether it’s the physical demands of our schedules or nighttime routines that kill romance, sex in marriage can become an afterthought — dutiful, selfish, or lazy.

The key to sex in a great marriage is to hold sex in high honor. God wants us to see sex as a sacred, spiritual act, a way to worship Him for the gift of your spouse. Making time for sex and learning what it takes to make sex more pleasurable for each other is the most basic way to show that it matters to God and it matters to you.

Better sex is a spiritual connection to be more fully expressed.

Elevating our view of sex requires open communication about each other’s expectations, likes and dislikes, discomforts, and struggles. In a culture of sexual brokenness, our attitudes and feelings toward sex are often filled with lies.

Most importantly, sex can’t be treated as separate to your marriage. The best sex is a celebration of the trust, intimacy, safety, affection, and service inside your marriage. Better sex is a spiritual connection to be more fully expressed.

Questions for him:

  • Is your attitude toward sex more than just physical? How would your wife see that?

Questions for her:

  • What emotional barriers do you have to sex, if any? Where do those barriers come from?

Question to talk about together:

  • What’s one physical and one emotional way you can improve your sex life?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 9: Why Dreaming Together Is a Powerful Practice

We were designed to dream.

According to psychologists and neuroscientists, looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is uniquely human and a central function of our brains. While other animals consider the future — ants store food, squirrels bury nuts — no other member of God’s creation plans as far out as we do and experiences the joy we get from looking ahead to what could be.

God wired us to plan for the future. He put a longing for eternity in our hearts, like a beacon guiding us toward Him (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So it shouldn’t surprise us that when taking the time to dream, to consider what is and what could be, it draws us closer to God and each other.

God put a longing for eternity in our hearts, like a beacon guiding us toward Him. 

We all have our five-year plans. Maybe they aren’t written down. And maybe you’ve never shared your dreams with anyone else. But we all have them. We are dreamers at our core, and when we marry, our spouse’s dreams should become ours as well.

Planning for the future is an opportunity to build trust. Sharing our hearts’ desires requires vulnerability. It also puts us in a position to trust Jesus with the unknown.

Proverbs 16:2-3 reminds us that, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

If we want our plans to matter for eternity, we need Jesus at the center of them. We get easily distracted by what looks good, but Jesus reveals what is good. When we’re tempted to manipulate our spouse into seeing things our way or to put our dreams ahead of theirs, Jesus reminds us that serving each other brings greater joy than getting our own way.

Marriage is a commitment to mutual submission, to helping one another be who God made us to be. Unexpressed expectations will always lead to resentment. But when we plan together and pray together, we move forward together.

Question for him:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Question for her:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What do you want to be different in your marriage this time next year?
  • What are your dreams for your family? Your career? Your relationships with others?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 10: A New Way to Talk about Money

Think about the last argument you had with your spouse. If the fight started about money, you’re not alone. Money Magazine found that 70 percent of couples argue about money more than household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring, or what’s for dinner.

Few things can rile us up or put us on the defensive like someone questioning how we spend our money. That’s because how we spend money reveals what matters to us (Matthew 6:21).

When we question each other’s spending, we’re usually not arguing over the actual dollars and cents, but about what they represent. For example, one spouse dropping hundreds on a shopping spree might mean the other has to give up a night out or pick up shifts to pay the car note.

You can avoid a lot of resentment and anger if you both agree to submit to Jesus’ priorities and expectations. This changes the way you talk about money because it puts you and your spouse on the same team.

The conversation is no longer about who gets more. Instead, it’s about how both of you can get behind Jesus’ promises for your finances. You’re no longer pursuing two separate agendas, but submitting both of your agendas to the Lord.

You’re no longer pursuing two separate agendas, but submitting both of your agendas to the Lord.

Jesus tells us not to worry about keeping up appearances or building our own kingdoms. Instead, Jesus tells us to spend our money on what will last. All the things we buy will one day fall apart or disappear. None of our stuff comes with us into eternity (1 Timothy 6:7). But our relationships? Our faith? These are forever things worth fighting for.

We can spend our marriage fighting against each other, or we can spend time fighting for unity. A constantly squabbling family disintegrates, but a family pursuing Jesus will grow closer together (Mark 3:24-25).

Question for him:

  • What is most important to you when it comes to your family’s budget?
  • Is what’s important to you important to Jesus? Why?
  • If you could change one thing about how your family manages money, what would it be?

Question for her:

  • What is most important to you when it comes to your family’s budget?
  • Is what’s important to you important to Jesus? Why?
  • If you could change one thing about how your family manages money, what would it be?

Questions to talk about together:

  • Share what you wrote with each other. What’s one step you can take to rework your family budget to pursue those priorities?

Need help with your finances? View the sermon series titled “Master Your Money: 5 Principles From America’s Premiere Financial Planner – Ron Blue.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 11: You Are a New Family Who Can Make New Traditions

One love story, one ceremony, one brand-new life starting from two totally different families.

When you marry, you are gaining a spouse and a new family. One that has its own routines, habits, and traditions that will be undeniably different from your own. Much of the pressure we face in marriage comes from the task of merging two separate lives into one.

That’s why it’s important to remember that when we marry, we form a new family with new traditions (Genesis 2:24). We don’t have to do everything the way either of our parents did. Our love for our parents is not measured by how much of our childhoods we replicate in our own families.

You don’t have to do everything the way either of your parents did.

In marriage and in parenting, God entrusts you with a responsibility — to love Him and love others. In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength, and to pass His commandments on to our kids. God’s Word is to be the focus of our hearts, not where we spend the holidays or how we celebrate with our kids.

If we’ll seek to please God, rather than trying to appease our in-laws, we’ll set up our marriages and our families for success. This might mean building a life that looks totally different than the families you came from — one where you study the Bible and pray together, where church is a priority and your closest relationships are with your spiritual family rather than your biological family.

Through our everyday life, we are to build our family values on loving God with everything we have. When we do, we give our kids a greater gift than the traditions we grew up with. We show them a God who loves them and we pass our faith to the next generation (Proverbs 13:22).

If we set our sights on something more important than the pressures of extended families and focus on Jesus, our marriage will be fertile soil and our faith will grow into a strong tree. Our children will play in that tree, and our grandchildren will be able to swing from the branches.

Questions for him:

  • What do you want to keep or change from your upbringing?

Questions for her:

  • What do you want to keep or change from your upbringing?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What are your dreams for your family?
  • What is the legacy you want to leave your kids?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 12: Are You Forgetting Your First Love?

For many married couples, adding kids to the family is the next “natural” progression in life. The joy you feel when you look into that sweet baby face is met with equal amounts of insecurity, fear, and doubt as they grow and change.

If we’re not intentional, our focus drifts toward our children, and our marriage takes the back seat. Pretty soon, we only share a room and a busy schedule with our spouses. We start to feel less like lovers and more like ships passing in the night.

Marriage is meant for more. We were designed to experience intimacy with God first and our spouses second, then to invest in our children together.

In Genesis 2, God forms the first family. God created Adam, and Adam’s first relationship was with God alone. When God found no helper suitable for Adam, He put Adam to sleep and created Eve. Eve’s first relationship was also with God alone. After Adam and Eve are united with each other, they go forth and multiply.

Love each other first, then the kids. 

Even in the early church, as men and women grappled with how to follow Jesus, the apostles’ instructions to Christian parents are to love each other first, then the kids.

While wives and husbands are to love and submit to one another, the relationship between parents and kids is different (Colossians 3:18-21). Our spouses are our lifetime partners, our kids are our legacy.

One day, our kids will start families of their own. The best gift we can give our children is an example of two adults pursuing a personal relationship with Jesus and a deeper love for each other. Seeing this creates a safe environment for our children. It also serves as an example of what their relationship with Jesus and their future marriage can look like.

No family is perfect, but every family can make the choice to be different. We can check our priorities and arrange them to honor God first, our spouse second, and our kids third. When we make this shift, everyone wins.

Question for him:

  • What would it look like for you to “go all out in love” for your wife this week? (Colossians 3:19, MSG)

Question for her:

  • What would it look like for you to “understand and support your husband” by submitting to him? (Colossians 3:18, MSG)

Question to talk about together:

  • Open your calendars and examine where you’re spending your time. What needs to change in order to make God your first priority and your spouse your second priority?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 13: Disappointments Don’t Have to Break Your Marriage

Read: Psalm 91

We all encounter loss or disappointment at some point in our life. Where do you go when you don’t get the job, when your kids decide they no longer believe, or the diagnosis isn’t what you thought it would be?

We all react to disappointments differently. Some withdraw, become emotional, or get depressed. Others make themselves busy. And some obsess about trying to fix everything.

Psalm 91 reminds us that when disappointments come our way, we are not alone. God is right there with us. God can heal our loss, our hurt, and our anxiety.

We need to communicate with our spouses about the turmoil in our lives. But our spouses are our partners, not our saviors. Husbands and wives cannot heal our hurts the way God can. Only God can rescue us, protect us, deliver us, and satisfy us (Psalm 91:14-16).

Our spouses are our partners, not our saviors.

Maybe your disappointment is your spouse. There might be deep pain and regret in your marriage. You might think your relationship is beyond repair, but nothing is too far gone for God to repair.

When disappointment comes, Satan would love nothing more than to isolate you or convince you no one cares. So as hard as it may be, open up to your spouse and to your heavenly Father about how you feel. You can share your worries with God, knowing that He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)

Maybe you need to go a step further. Ask another couple to come alongside you and your spouse in this season, to pray for you and encourage you. Marriage counseling can also be helpful when recovering from disappointments and losses.

Do not be afraid to ask for help from God and from others. God is our ultimate healer, and He often works through His people. When we share our pain with each other, we’ll find ourselves growing closer to Jesus and closer together.

Questions for him:

  • How do you respond to disappointment in your own life? In your wife’s life?

Questions for her:

  • How do you respond to disappointment in your own life? In your husband’s life?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What’s the biggest disappointment you’ve faced since getting married?
  • What’s the best way I can comfort or support you during tough times?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 14: Commit to More Than Not Getting Divorced

When it comes to setting goals, we tend to focus on performance rather than purpose. As a result, we frame goals negatively. We vow, “I’m going to stop eating so much junk food.” Instead of, “I’m going to eat healthier foods to fuel my body.”

In the same way, when we commit to staying together, we can, intentionally or unintentionally, put all of our focus on surviving instead of thriving.

Success in marriage is more than “sticking it out for the kids.” Living with someone who doesn’t speak to you — sharing your house but not your heart — is not what Solomon had in mind when he wrote, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).

Marriage is a gift from God, and like all of God’s gifts, it’s meant for His glory and our joy. God made marriage. We are His in body and Spirit, and our unions are designed to draw people to His extraordinary love for the world (Malachi 2:15).

Our unions are designed to draw people to God’s extraordinary love for the world.

Seeing two people pursue one another, forgive one another, sacrifice for one another, and bring the best out of one another — what better picture is there of the way God loves us? God’s love keeps loving. It’s a love we learn to express by experiencing it ourselves (1 John 4:19).

Through loving each other, we become less like the person we were and more of the person God made us to be. Marriage is meant to change us, and this, too, is a good gift. Our best selves and our best lives are revealed as we allow God, through marriage, to make us more like Him.

God wants us to stay together, but He also wants us to be in this together. Not divorcing should not be our only goal. Loving each other as Jesus loved us, that’s the goal. And if we pursue that goal, we’ll find that we not only stay together, we’ll become more like Jesus in the process.

Questions for him:

  • What part of your marriage most glorifies God?
  • What is the biggest challenge in your marriage? What part do you play?

Questions for her:

  • What part of your marriage most glorifies God?
  • What is the biggest challenge in your marriage? What part do you play?

Questions to talk about together:

  • Would watching your marriage encourage or discourage someone else thinking about getting married?
  • Do you both have a relationship with Jesus? How are you pursuing Him individually and together?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 2: Where you get the ability to love

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

What if I get hurt?

What if they take advantage of me?

I’ve tried helping before, and it didn’t do any good.

For all of the reasons we avoid letting people into our lives or getting involved in theirs, John gives us one good reason we should. It’s what God did for each of us.

When we were uninterested in God, He pursued us. God sent His only Son into the world so our sin could be removed and our relationship could be restored (1 John 4:10-12).

When we realize the depth of God’s love, it changes us. We want to spend time with Him, to know Him. We find joy in bringing Him joy. And after a while, we become so familiar with His character that we know what He would say or have us do. Like a couple that’s been together for decades, we begin to move in sync with one another (1 John 4:13-15).

That’s why the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us. God is love. When we are living in step with God, love is what comes out of us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals Himself to others through us, and His love is made complete.

God knows better than anyone that love can be costly. We might get hurt, and people might take advantage of us. But the way to quiet those fears is not by retreating. We get past the fear of putting ourselves out there by remembering God’s love and choosing to treat others the way He treated us.

Reflect:

  • Who were you when you asked Jesus into your life? How has your life changed since then?
  • How would you describe the way God has loved you?
  • When it comes to loving others that way, are you retreating in fear or reaching out in faith?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 3: This kind of love cannot be overlooked

When you think of “standing out,” what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the Insta-famous person with thousands of followers. Maybe it’s the colleague who hits every goal or the girl every guy seems to like. How about the star athlete who plays each game while your kid sits on the bench? There’s also the gigantic house that towers over its neighbors, or the teenager whose bright pink hair and wild fashion that make people look twice.

To most of us, standing out means having to be bigger or bolder. But Jesus describes a different way to get others attention — through the way we love one another.

We don’t have to push the boundaries with what we wear or climb the corporate ladder to stand out. As Jesus followers, we are called to love like Jesus loves us (John 13:35). That kind of love can’t be hidden. Like a light breaking into a dark room, Jesus’ love shining through us breaks through the mundane of our day to day (Matthew 5:14-16).

Anyone can profess love verbally. But the selfless, unconditional love Jesus demonstrates is more than just words (James 2:17). Jesus proved His love for us through action. He left heaven and came to Earth to live among us. He traveled from town to town healing and helping those who were hurting. And, in His greatest act of love, Jesus gave His life so we could experience forever with Him.

These days, love that proves itself through action is scarce. Many people don’t even know such a love exists, nor do they recognize their need for it. That is why Jesus put so much emphasis on freely and consistently loving those around us.

Real love is more than surface level. It is not fickle, and it does not demand anything in return. When we’ve been loved well, we know it. It causes us to do a double take, to feel deeply, and to tell others about it. A tangible love that reflects Jesus’ heart shines too brightly for people to ignore.

Reflect:

  • Do your actions match what you say about love? Why or why not?
  • What’s one way you can love someone intentionally and actively today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 4: Love will always lead you to be more generous

No one likes being told what to do, especially when it comes to giving away money. 

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Paul tells the Corinthian church to give, not because they feel obligated to, but as a reflection of their love for others. As an example, he points to the church in Macedonia.

Believers there were facing extreme poverty and trials. Yet in the midst of their suffering, the people had overflowing joy because they were generous in giving and sharing with others rather than holding tightly the little bit they had to offer. That’s the kind of love Christians are to show to one another — real, tangible, practical, and sacrificial generosity.

Being generous doesn’t happen without intentional effort on our part (2 Corinthians 8:7). Every married couple knows the words “I love you” don’t carry much weight unless they are supported by actions. The same is true with our love for others. Saying “I love you” is not nearly as impactful as showing someone you love them.

The beauty of learning to excel in the grace of giving is that generosity is a natural response to love. Generosity isn’t something that has to be forced. When we love someone, we want to provide for their needs with our time and attention.

God gave us the perfect example of sacrificial generosity in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). As followers of Christ, let’s put action behind our declaration and be generous in our time, finances and love.

Reflect:

  • When was the last time you did something crazy generous for someone else?
  • What’s one way that you can show love by being generous today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring 

Day 5: Do you love me enough to tell me the truth?

We all know what it’s like to have a difficult conversation with someone you love. You know, the one that you put off having because it’s awkward.

We wonder “What do I say?” and “What if they never speak to me again?”

Having hard conversations may not be fun, but they are necessary. One of the most difficult ways we show visible love to someone is by being willing to tell them the truth, even when it hurts.

Hard conversations, like the one Paul had with the church in Corinth, can lead people away from sin and into the abundant life Jesus has for them. Being truthful with each other pushes us forward and helps us become more like Jesus.

So how do you have a hard conversation with someone? Start by praying. Ask God what He thinks about the situation and what He wants you to say. Ask God for clarity and courage as you prepare for the conversation. Once you’re sure your motives are pure and you have the other person’s best interest in mind, it may be helpful to write out what you want to say as a reference for your conversation.

Next, ask the other person to sit down and talk with you in private. Let the person know you love them and have their best interest in mind. Say what you need to say, and be kind but clear. Give the other person time to respond or ask questions. When you both feel the conversation is finished, pray and remind the person how much you love them.

It may take time to process what was said, and that’s OK. Stay connected, so you can encourage and support each other as you take next steps.

Flattery feels good, but a real friend won’t stand idly by while we wreck our lives. We all need people who will do more than support our decisions. We need people who will love us enough to tell us when we’re wrong and help us change our ways.

Reflect:

  • Is there anyone that you need to have a hard conversation with? Pray and ask Jesus what He wants you to say. 
  • Has someone recently had a hard conversation with you? What is Jesus teaching you through that hard conversation?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 6: What do I do when someone hurts me?

Read: Luke 6:27-36

Even Christians can experience rage. Your body shakes. The heat rises to your cheeks. Your mind can’t comprehend how someone could mistreat someone so badly. You’re seething as you think, “How could they?”

A reality of being a human on planet Earth is that someone, someday, in some way will hurt you. When that happens, what should our response be?

Jesus gives us an answer in Luke 6:27-36. Love people, even when they are not lovable, even when you don’t want to. Give grace, be merciful.

No one knows more about loving people who don’t deserve it than Jesus. No one else can sympathize with you more than Jesus. He was hurt, made fun of, and talked about. Yet, He was willing to die for those who hurt him.

Our goal as Christians is to mirror what Jesus’ response was. Jesus knows all the unlovable people in your life, and He can equip you to love them the way He does.

The best way to begin changing our hearts toward someone is to pray for them (Luke 6:28). Be honest with God about your frustrations. Talk to Him about how hard it is to love that person, and see how God starts to transform your heart and mind.

It’s easy to respond to pain with pain. But only love will lead to healing. The more we love those who hurt us, the more our hearts are opened to letting Jesus heal our pain. Jesus is able to understand your pain, turn your heart toward forgiveness, and help you love. That’s what the grace of Jesus does.

Loving your enemies won’t be easy. It takes an effort to offer mercy as Jesus did, but He promises the reward is worth the work (Luke 6:35). If we will try to forgive and love, we will start to see our hearts soften. Give your hurt to Jesus day after day, and watch how He grows your heart.

Reflect:

  • Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive?
  • Do you need help loving a specific person? Ask God for help and how He would have you respond to that person. 

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 1: What Breaks Your Heart?

Read: Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah’s story started with a burden. He saw the condition of Jerusalem’s wall and knew the situation was desperate. Without a wall, people returning to Jerusalem after years in captivity would be unprotected and vulnerable to attack.

Nehemiah was brokenhearted, but he didn’t tackle the problem immediately. Why? He first needed to bring his burden before the Lord.

The state of Jerusalem’s wall reflected the condition of the Jewish people’s relationship with God. Disobedience had left their city and their lives in disarray. So before Nehemiah could fix the brokenness surrounding the city, he asked God to fix the brokenness inside the people of the city. Forgiveness was the foundation everything else would be built on.

Once the people were right with God, Nehemiah began to pray about what was next. All the while, God positioned Nehemiah so he’d have influence with the king and with the people. God had arranged it so a foreign king provided resources to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

Imagine what God is arranging behind the scenes, so you can do more than you ever thought possible.

Look around. What breaks your heart? What has God put in front of you that you can’t ignore? Until our hearts are broken for the situations and people around us, we’ll maintain the status quo.

Once you know what your burden is, go to Jesus in prayer. Ask Him what to do next.

Consider This:

What are you burdened about?

Pray:

Jesus, I am burdened about ___________________________. What should I do next? I want to make a difference. Help me make a difference.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 7: Are You Doing Enough?

You’re serving at church, volunteering with local charities, and helping at school. Every second of the day is accounted for, yet so much is left undone. Your days are long, and your body is exhausted. At the end of the day, you wonder, “When will it be enough?”

It’s overwhelming to look at a hurt and broken world. Too often, we see all the needs at once. We want to love others, but in our striving, we leave ourselves burned out and too busy to hear from God.

In Matthew 22, Jesus reminds the religious elite (and all those listening) to make the main thing the main thing. If we’ll focus on loving God and loving our neighbors, it will result in us fulfilling God’s commands.

We don’t have to end world hunger in an afternoon or heal every broken heart in one day. Instead, Jesus says the most important thing we can do is to love Him and love others. That’s our charge.

So rather than getting overwhelmed by all that we can’t do, we start with what we can do. Loving our neighbors can be as simple as cooking an extra lasagna to bring to the new mom next door or the widow across the street.

When we are loving God with our heart, soul, and mind, we are more in tune with His Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit is a helper and a guide. We can trust the Holy Spirit to show us opportunities to love people one at a time.

That’s how we make a difference — not by running down a list or striving to hold everything together. We change the world by loving God and showing visible love where He tells us to.

Reflect:

  • Why do you think Jesus put the emphasis on loving God and others instead of following all the laws? 
  • Is there a big need you feel overwhelmed by? 
  • What is one thing small thing you could do to meet that need today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 10: Making A Difference As A Church

Read: Nehemiah 10

When the people in Jerusalem said, “We will not neglect the house of our God,” they committed to observe the sacrifices and offerings required by God’s law. They acknowledged they were regaining a special bond that had been lost. In that declaration, they renewed their commitment to obey God. In Christ, we are all part of the house of God. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” The church is not a building. The church is made up of people (Acts 7:48).

When we say, “We will not neglect the house of God,” it’s an acknowledgement that God has filled our hearts, and our behavior should reflect His love. Living for Jesus is more than showing up to church every week or giving money. When our heart has been truly changed, every area of our lives is affected. And sometimes, like Israel, we need to be reminded of our commitment.

Something special happens when we commit to advancing the church together. The church is made up of individuals changed by Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, making a difference. There is synergy as we pull together with common purpose. We are unstoppable because God is unstoppable in us. Together, we can make a difference in our neighborhoods, cities, and state.

Consider This:

What kind of commitment have you made to the church? Do you need to recommit?

Pray:

Jesus, help me not to forget my commitment.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 3: Accepting God’s Will for Your Child

Most parents think we know what our children should be when they grow up, but our plans are not always the same as God’s plan for them. We’re not the first parents to have to let our children become what God created them to be. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to let her Son follow God’s purpose for His life, whether she liked it or not.

Mary was an ordinary girl who said yes to God’s call on her life (Luke 1:38). She knew Jesus was destined to be great and reign over Israel (Luke 1:32-33), but aside from Simeon’s warning in the temple (Luke 2:35), she probably didn’t expect her beloved firstborn son to die a criminal’s death at the age of 33.

Ground your children in God’s Word so when God speaks, they’ll recognize His voice.

God may be calling your child to a job in a far-off city, or maybe it’s to a mission field in a dangerous country. As parents, we want our children to be happy and fulfilled, and if they can do that while living less than a mile away, all the better. We often want to protect them from all harm and encourage them to do what is going to keep them safe. But God loves our children even more than we do, and He has a purpose for them that is better than anything we could dream up (Jeremiah 29:11).

We all love to give our children gifts, but there are two things we can give them that will help them receive one of the best gifts of all, knowing God and following His will for their lives.

Two of the Best Gifts Money Can’t Buy

1. Roots

Ground your children in God’s Word so when God speaks, they’ll recognize His voice. Mary knew scripture and taught it to her Son. We can also take our children to church so they can learn more about Jesus on their level, just as Mary made sure that Jesus participated in Jewish religious traditions (Luke 2:41-42).

2. Wings

Love your children selflessly enough to let them go wherever God guides them. Mary wanted to see Jesus, but His world was expanding to include everyone willing to listen to Him (Luke 8:19-21). She had to allow Him to fulfill the purpose God had sent Him for.

Parenthood is a lifelong journey of bittersweet moments and putting aside what we want for our children in order to pick up what God wants for them. When we trust God enough to say “yes” to His call, as a mom who gives her children roots and wings, we’ll be able to, like Mary, be blessed among women (Luke 1:42).

Reflect:

  • How are you “rooting” your children in the Word of God?
  • Are you willing to give up your dreams to let God use them in the way He wants to?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 11: You Are Not A Number

Read: Nehemiah 11

Why do you suppose Nehemiah records so many names in his account of those returning to settle in Jerusalem? The names serve to focus our attention on the promises God made to His people. They remind the workers they are part of one special family of purpose. Perhaps most importantly, the names remind us that these were real people with real stories who made a real difference.

If we were to list all the difference makers who helped build 12Stone, the list would be long. Hundreds and thousands of people have served and sacrificed in order to reach people far from God.

We believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God. God really does care about the people we are trying to reach. But, God also cares about the people already here.

The mission to reach the world with the gospel is a huge undertaking. We can never forget that the church’s mission is fulfilled by individuals. Individuals who matter to God come together to fight and build and make a difference. God hasn’t forgotten you. God is with us in the late nights and early mornings, the long phone calls, and the prayers spoken through tears. He knows and cares about our personal circumstances. Jesus knows us by name.

Consider This:

Who in your life needs to hear about Jesus?

Pray:

Jesus, give me the courage to share my faith.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 4: Hope for Single Moms

Why am I walking this journey? All the other moms seem to have it all together, and I am struggling to put food on the table. Why did God even choose me to be a mother?

If you are having similar thoughts, rest assured that you are not alone. Grab a Kleenex, a comfy reading spot, and let’s dive into Hagar’s story.

Abraham and Sarah grew weary and impatient waiting on God’s promise of children to come true. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah ordered Hagar, an Egyptian slave in their household, to sleep with her husband in an attempt to build a family.

Hagar became pregnant and began to despise her master, and Sarah likely grew jealous of Hagar’s ability to bear her husband a child. Sarah tells Abraham that it is his fault she is miserable, and he basically gives Sarah permission to do whatever she wants to Hagar. Sarah begins to mistreat Hagar, and Hagar runs away.

God always comes through on his promises; He feels our hurts and hears our cries for help.

Have you found yourself in a difficult predicament, with children, and wonder just where God is leading you? Has your heart cried out for hope, wholeness, and healing?

An angel of the Lord visits Hagar in the wilderness and orders her to return and submit to her mistress, promising her she will give birth to a son named Ishmael and countless more descendants. Hagar was running away from a difficult situation, but God stayed with her and gave her the courage to face the brokenness. Hagar gave birth to a son named Ishmael, translating to “God hears”.

Even when we have doubts and fears, God always comes through on His promises; He feels our hurts and hears our cries for help. Hagar’s story is one of hope. God listened to her cries and felt her brokenness; He stayed with her, pursued her, and delivered her.

God sees your struggle and will guide you through it.

Parenting is hard work in the best of situations. Single mom, God’s grace and mercy fills in all the gaps and crevices in motherhood that you possibly could not. His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9). God sees your struggle and will guide you through it. Hagar thought she could escape her misery but God not only returned her to it, He blessed her through it. Let Hagar’s story provide the hope you need when you feel the most alone.

Reflect:

  • Are you in a less-than-ideal parenting situation? Meditate on 1 Peter 5:10. Don’t give up hope! God will restore you if you just trust Him!
  • Have you ever tried to escape your problems only to learn that escape is a temporary solution? God wants to help you. Read Philippians 4:13 and 1 Peter 5:7 and stand renewed in your faith that God is a promise maker and a promise keeper.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church