Ways to Cultivate a Healthy Marriage

To be human is to struggle with unhealthy patterns of relating. The Bible calls it “sin.” Those of us who are married know how frequently our selfishness gets in the way of spiritual, emotional, and relational health.

Here are a few ways to continue the journey towards a healthy marriage. None of us ever completely arrive this side of heaven. However, here are some of the commitments made by those pursuing a healthy marriage:

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by intentionally pursuing together and individually our relationship with God.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by loving each other faithfully and fervently from the heart.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by worshiping, serving and pursuing community together in the context of a local church in the city in which we live.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by ensuring that we embrace God’s purpose for our marriage – Gospel Reenactment… to prepare our spouse for their future glory self and for that moment when they will be presented faultless and with great joy as part of the bride of the perfect bridegroom.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by communicating clearly, honestly, and graciously as we work to resolve our conflicts.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by building healthy patterns of relating to each other’s family.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by praying and working to expand the kingdom of God by having and nurturing our own children in the Lord.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by reserving and pursuing the expression of our sexuality with our spouse alone.

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by living out biblical principles of stewardship (treasure, time, and talents).

We will cultivate a healthy marriage by remaining unified in our decisions.

Growing Strong in Trusting His Promises – Romans 4:17-21

ASPIRE: How do we grow strong in our faith?  How do I strengthen my capacity to trust the Lord?

1.         We grow strong in faith as we know what “is written” (v.17).  One must know well God’s promises before you can trust them.  You must know someone well before you have a greater capacity to trust them fully. 

2.       We grow strong in faith as we praise and worship God.  Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”  What does it look like to give glory to God? Well, one thing for sure is that we get our eyes off of ourselves and the greatness of our problems and put them on the greatness of our God and His promises.

3.        We grow strong in faith as we refuse to allow our circumstances to dictate our emotional state and feelings.  Appearances can most often be deceiving and misleading. They were with Abraham and Sarai. They were at the cross of Jesus, and they will be in your life as well.

This passage sets forth two options for us.  One is wavering in faith.  Another is growing strong in faith.  There is no other option for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.  One is the pathway of walking by sight.  The other is the pathway of walking by faith.  Both types of people are aware of the same promises of God.  It appears that Abraham had plenty of opportunity to either grow weak (v.19) in his faith or to grow strong (v.20).  When he lied about Sarah, he was wavering in unbelief.  When he heeded Sarai’s counsel about going into Hagar, he was wavering in unbelief.  When he offered Isaac, he was strong in faith.  This see-saw story of the “friend of God” is our story, my story, your story. 

In a meeting with a small group of missionaries in China, Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship) reminded them that there were three ways to do God’s work:

“One is to make the best plans we can and carry them out to the best of our ability.

Two, carefully lay out our plans and determine to carry them through, we may even ask God to help us and to prosper us in connection with them.

Three, another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.”              

— Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Biography of James Hudson Taylor (London: China Inland Mission, 1965), p. 271.

Admit Our Struggle with Unbelief – Romans 4:17-21

ADMIT: What do I need to confess when I forget this about the Lord?

Confession:  Lord, how easy it is to waver in unbelief concerning Your promises!  Am I “fully convinced” that you can do what is humanly impossible?  NO!

Do I really believe that you can cause your church to grow numerically and spiritually? 

Do you I really believe that you can heal and restore troubled marriages?

Do I really believe that you supernaturally open the womb and give barren women the ability to bear children?

Do I really believe that you can reclaim the wayward teens from the families in our church?

Do I really believe that you can raise up the necessary funding to send forth your missionaries to the ends of the earth for Your glory?

Do I really believe that you can move in the hearts of single men and women to draw them together in marriage?

Do I really believe that you can cause my unsaved neighbors to come to saving faith in Jesus? 

I believe! Help my unbelief Lord! AMEN.

Adore our Promise-Keeping God – Romans 4:17-21

17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Rom. 4:17–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

ADORE: What do I see in this passage for which I can praise the Lord?

1.         God is able to do what He promises. He told me I would be a father of a multitude.  Therefore it will happen even in my old age. 

2.        God is able to do what is humanly impossible…He gives life to the dead.  An old couple gets pregnant and has a baby.  Spiritually dead people are born again into a living hope.  He speaks things into existence that do not exist.  A son called ‘Laughter’ is born to an old couple.

Lord, grant to me and those I love…

  • a greater sense of the assurance of our salvation,
  • a growing willingness to obey Jesus’ word,
  • a growing burden to see Jesus exalted and enthroned in the hearts and lives of others,
  • a growing ability to smile at the future.
  • a growing desire to worship the Lord joyfully
  • a growing willingness to surrender all to Jesus.

Prayers from a devotional reading of John 8:48-59…

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Learning to Accept Trials

“Let us learn to be patient in the days of darkness if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us (John 15), and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us ‘for our profit, that we might share His holiness.’ (Hebrews 12:10.)

Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruning knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.”

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John

Weep Not for Me – Matthew Henry

Would you like to know where I am?
I am at home in my Father’s house, in the mansion prepared for me there.
I am where I would be —
No longer on the stormy sea, but in the safe and quiet harbor.
My working time is done and I am resting.

Would you know how it is with me?
I am made perfect in holiness.
Grace is swallowed up in glory,
Faith no longer hopes, but sees.
Mortality has given way to life as it was meant to be.

Would you know what I am doing?
I see God.
I see Him as He is, not as through a glass darkly, but face to face,
And the sight is transforming, it makes me like him.
I am in the sweet enjoyment of my blessed Redeemer.
I am here singing hallelujahs incessantly to Him who sits upon the throne, And I rest not day or night from praising Him.

Would you know what company I keep?
Blessed Company —
Better that the best on earth.
Here are holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect.
I am set down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the saints.

Would you know how long this is to continue?
It is the dawn that never withers,
The crown of glory that fades not away.
After millions and millions of ages it will be as fresh as it is now,
And therefore, weep not for me.

— Ascribed to Matthew Henry, 18th century