By Series - 2Gether

2Gether

Friday

February 17, 2017

No Greater Love Than This

Read

Romans 5:8, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”.

Think

We love a lot of things. We love football. We love certain foods. We love our children. We love shopping. We love our spouse. Obviously, some of the things we love are weightier and more meaningful than others. However, in the Greek language there are several different terms which define the various forms of love. For example, phileo—like Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love—is a kindred affection, a shared camaraderie, and a strong bond between close friends. Stergo is a familial love. It’s a parental love and protective in nature. It can even be used to explain the love between a pet and its owner. Eros describes the passionate and erotic sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. Each of these are a vital part of our lives, but they all pale in comparison to the most important, foundational, and purest form of love—agape. It is sacrificial and unconditional. It is God’s love for us.

Without a solid foundation in Christ and an intimate knowledge of God, every other form of love can easily be manipulated, confused by emotions, and abused. Terrorists and gang members share brotherly love. Regardless of faith or lack thereof, people can experience romance. The most hardcore Atheists love their children, and they certainly don’t understand the love God has for them. The Bible says even while we were God’s enemies dying in sin and deserving of wrath, He sent His Son to die for us. This means that without God’s mercy and grace, without the ministry of reconciliation, our lives are devoid of purpose. We’re here because of His love and purposed to love Him and to express His love to others. To know God is to love God. When we are grounded in His love, all the other forms of love align. How great is that?

Pray

Thank God for His unfailing love and devotion. Ask Him to help you love others as you love yourself. And praise Him right now by saying aloud, “God, I know You love me even when I don’t love myself. God, I know you love me when I fail. God, I know I’m important to You. And God, I know that no matter what I’ve done or where I’ve been, that You chose me to share and show Your love everywhere I go!”

Act

Read I Corinthians 13 paying careful attention to the Apostle Paul’s description of love. Reread it aloud and notice the words and phrases that stand out to you the most. Then journal whatever God brings to mind.

 

Thursday

February 16, 2017

Matters of the Heart

Read

Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Think

Most great things in life require great work. Making good grades is a result of good study habits. Physical fitness is the byproduct of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Promotions at work come from plugging away and proving that we take pride in a job well done. Why then, when it comes to relationships, do we so often give them our second best? In today’s verse, Jesus is referring to our priorities. That in which we invest the most time and energy marks the condition and position of our hearts. Whatever we cherish most drives our deepest commitments and controls our thinking, feelings, decisions, and actions. Therefore, true change doesn’t come from changing our thinking; it comes from changing what we love. What we worship the most matters the most. Thus, our heart and treasure are always intertwined. So, to see great return in our relational investments we must put forth great effort into what matters to God—the covenant of marriage and the ministry of reconciliation.

Great relationships aren’t built on this or that; they’re built on the this and the that. Men, prioritize your marriage over your work. Ladies, prioritize being a wife before being a mom. The enemy is always nudging us to prioritize “this” over “that”. But God is a God of the this and the that! He wants us to be a great a parent and a great spouse. He wants to bless us both vocationally and relationally. Remember, the God that spoke Creation into existence is the same God that wants to pour out His favor and blessing on those who seek Him first. Time is a gift that we must steward wisely. Date nights are crucial. And praying together is vital! In Matthew 18:19, Jesus says, “If two on earth agree about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven”. Invest in the best and God will handle all the rest!

Pray

Ask God to point out any areas that you are not investing in what matters most to Him. Pray for encouragement to keep your heart aligned with His will. And thank Him for His constant guidance and provision.

Act

Memorize and meditate on Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”.

 

Wednesday

February 15, 2017

Successfully Single

Read

I Corinthians 6:18-20, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Think

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fantasy of fairy tale romances. Everything appears seamless, passionate, and perfect. But the keyword here is “fairy tale”. We all know life just isn’t that simple. In books and movies we only see a microcosm of the “happily ever after”. Financial difficulties, parenting challenges, and the struggle to set aside time for one another—the rut that befalls so many marriages—is omitted. As we’ve discovered this week, romance is a vital part of relationships, but love in action is the anchor, the foundational glue that makes marriages last. Yesterday’s devotional focused on marriage. So today, singles, this is for you!

The Bible definitely doesn’t shy away from the topic of premarital sex. God clearly prohibits it because He knows it leads to shame, remorse, rebellion, and funky and faulty feelings. Not to mention the obvious—unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Therefore, in today’s sexual climate, it’s crucial to set limits and stick to them. Ladies, if a guy isn’t protecting your body, he’s not going to protect your heart. Why buy the cow if the milk is free? And guys, if she doesn’t honor you now, she’s not going to honor you when she becomes your wife. Singles, you must date the people who walk in joy, the people whose first and foremost priority is their relationship with Christ. Run from difficult people—if a relationship is problematic now it will only become a greater burden after the vows. Lean upon God’s strength, keep a fire extinguisher nearby, set limits, and stay pure. Don’t defile God’s temple!

Pray

If you’re single continue asking God for “the one”, and pray for guidance in deciphering which dates are potential mates. If you’re in a serious dating relationship, pray for strength and wisdom to protect your purity. If you’re married, pray with your spouse. Thank God for one another and lay before Him any current struggles or concerns within your marriage.

Act

Reread today’s scripture. How does sexual sin hurt God’s heart? In what ways do you feel motivated to honor God with your body? If single, do you have an accountability partner? Write: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” on a piece of paper and post it where you can see it.

 

 

Tuesday

February 14, 2017

Valentine’s Day Victory

Read

Song of Solomon 1:2,4 “May he kiss me with kisses of his mouth… Draw me after you and let us run together…”
Song of Solomon 5:10, 16 “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand… and he is wholly desirable.”

Think

If you’re single, take note of what’s to come, as this devotional is speaking specifically to married couples. It’s Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year specifically devoted to love and romance—the two key ingredients to a successful marriage. Obviously, love is the binding factor. To clarify, romance is a feeling and love is an action. So, great marriages, rooted in Christ, seek to fan the flames of romance on a consistent basis. And guys, remember, what it took to get her is what it takes to keep her! Romance is a great fuel, but a horrible foundation. Ladies need a sense of security. And ladies, remember guys need to feel respected. Therefore, if romance is the fuel, love is the engine, the driving force. Commitment is love in action. Regardless of the season, nothing should divide what God provides.

The takeaway from today’s scripture is this: “Draw me after you and let us run together, wholly desirable”. This means the Bible is the greatest encourager of marital sex! How great is that? With this in mind, here are 5 keys to ignite Romance:
1) STUDY your spouse. Know their likes and dislikes. Know what matters to them. Know their style, favorite foods, annoyances, and turn-ons.
2) SERVE your spouse. Inconvenience yourself on their behalf. We serve everyone else and forget to serve within the home. Make this a marital priority!
3) LAUGH—a lot! Keep joy alive and have fun! Not only is laughter great for breaking tension, it’s also a great way to end a fight.
4) PLAN special moments. Put energy and time into something your spouse doesn’t see coming. Put some guesswork into the romance. Don’t skip date night. Guys, remember date night is mate night!
5) SPEAK into their life. We all have enough negativity within our own thought life. Encourage one another. Celebrate one another. Use words that complete one another versus compete or deplete. Realize, no one can say it better than you can.
Work these things into your marriage and set yourselves on fire, it’s worth it!

Pray

Thank God for the capacity to love passionately and for romance within the covenant of marriage. And singles, pray for what’s to come. Continue asking God to prepare you for who He is preparing for you.

Act

Tonight, if you’re married, date your mate. If you’re unmarried and on a date, be responsible with your body. And if you’re single, romance God and go have some fun with your friends!

Monday

February 13, 2017

Aloha

Read

Ephesians 5:33, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”.

Think

Aloha is a commonly known greeting for both hello and goodbye in Hawaii.  But the deeper expression of this word has some powerful meaning behind it. It’s a Hawaiian greeting that welcomes the other person into their space by sharing the breath of life. Two greet each other by pressing the bridge of their noses together and breathing in. What a beautiful expression! Let’s put this word picture in the context of marriage.  It is a special moment when a man and woman invite each other to share life together. But this mutual spatial invitation is just the beginning. There are intentional steps that must be taken in order for this covenant relationship to thrive.

In the scripture above, the Bible gives the two most vital components to a foundationally strong marriage – love and respect.  When a husband displays love for his wife and honors her, it gives her a sense of security and affirmation. Likewise, when a wife shows honor and respect to her husband, he too feels empowered and affirmed. These components bind like relational glue, producing the desire to learn more and more about each other’s likes and dislikes. Biblically founded marriages work—they are everlasting. What a great challenge to continuously study your mate in order to keep taking the relationship to a “holy notha’ level”!

Pray

Thank God for your spouse.  Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to learn more about them each day.  If you are single, ask God to continue growing you into the person He has created you to be, so that you can be prepared for whom He is preparing for you.

Act

Take a moment to let your spouse know you are thinking of them.  Share affirming and loving words via text, phone, a handwritten note, face-to-face, or some other form of communication. If you are single, take a moment to encourage someone close to you, letting them know they are loved.