A Year of Weekly Devotions for a Holier, Happier Marriage
Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with your spouse. It is a relationship God uses to help you know Him more, trust Him more fully, and love Him more deeply.
Devotions for a Sacred Marriage explores how God can reveal Himself to you through your marriage and help you grow closer to Him as well as to your spouse. With fresh insights that build upon the principles found in Sacred Marriage, these fifty-two weekly devotions offer practical, biblical wisdom for nurturing your marriage as an expression of your love for God.
A happy marriage is good, but a holy one is sacred.
Gary Thomas is a writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching about spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of fifteen books, including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways, Sacred Parenting, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Authentic Faith.
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About the Author
Gary Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and Houston Theological Seminary in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 19 books, including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways, Cherish, Sacred Parenting, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Authentic Faith. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied under Dr. J.I. Packer, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Western Seminary. Gary has spoken in 49 states and 10 different countries. He has appeared numerous times on various national radio and television programs, including CBN, Focus on the Family and Family Life Today.
Read an Excerpt
Devotions for a Sacred Marriage
The God-Centered Spouse
Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1
Greg Nettle, pastor of the RiverTree Christian Church in Massillon,
Ohio, was walking to his car after a golf tournament when he realized the remote trunk opener wasn't working. Neither were the automatic door locks. When he finally got inside the car, he saw the fuel gauge reading empty, even though he had filled up on gas less than twenty-four hours before. More frustrating yet, the car would turn over but then immediately die.
After a tow truck delivered the disabled vehicle to the dealership,
a mechanic came out to Greg and told him the problem: a bad BCM.
'What's a BCM?'
'The basic control module. It's essentially the car's brain, and once it goes bad, everything starts malfunctioning.'
Greg could have insisted on 'fixing' the trunk, the door locks,
the gas gauge, and any number of problems---but those were merely the symptoms of an overall malfunction.
How often do we do the same thing with marriage! We focus on the symptoms:
* 'We need to improve our communication.'
* 'We need to get better at handling conflict.'
* 'We need to show more appreciation for each other.'
* 'We need to have a more unified plan with the children.'
* 'We need to work harder at keeping the romance alive in our relationship.'
We can spend a lifetime focusing on the symptoms, or we can replace the BCM---the basic control module. I believe the BCM for marriage is our spiritual motivation.
It all comes down to this: Are you a God-centered spouse or a spouse-centered spouse? A spouse-centered spouse acts nicely toward her husband when he acts nicely toward her. She is accommodating,
as long as her husband pays her attention. A spouse-centered husband will go out of his way for his wife, as long as she remains agreeable and affectionate. He'll romance her, as long as he feels rewarded for doing so.
But Paul tells us we are to perfect holiness out of reverence for God.
Since God is always worthy to be revered, we are always called to holiness; we are always called to love. A God-centered spouse feels more motivated by his or her commitment to God than by whatever response a spouse may give.
Spouse-centered Christians try to make excuses to stop loving their spouses because of their spouses' sins. But if this were a valid excuse, every one of us could avoid the call to love, since every one of us married a sinner!
One woman came up to me after a seminar and said, 'It would be easy to be married if my husband were half as holy as you.' I managed to contain my laughter and pointed out that she had no idea how 'holy' I was; my wife feels pushed beyond her limit in many areas while trying to love this sinful man.
But that's not the point! I am not called to love my wife because she is holier than other wives (though I'm deeply thankful for her godliness). I am not called to love her because she makes me happy
(though I am grateful for the many good times we share). I am not called to love her because she makes me go all gooey inside (though sometimes she still does). I am called to love her out of reverence for
God. Any other motivation is less than Christian.
If I am to rid myself of anything that may contaminate body or spirit, then I can give no place in my life to jealousy, bitterness,
resentment, or selfishness. I am always called to practice gentleness,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Someone else's sin---even the sin of my spouse against me---never gives me the license to respond with sin. I am called to just one motivation, and one only: reverence for God.
In one sense, what my spouse says or does or doesn't do is almost irrelevant. Every decision I make, every word I utter, every thought
I think, every movement I perform, is to flow out of one holy motivation:
reverence for God.
Are you a God-centered spouse?
A Prayer to Remember
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
When I come into town for 'Sacred Marriage' seminars, I often get taken out to dinner beforehand. The organizers sometimes invite an engaged couple to join us. I always like this, particularly if I feel tired from traveling, because I know I can ask one question of the engaged woman that will reward me with a good rest. I know this because she will likely take at least ten minutes to answer. The question is this:
'Tell me about your future husband.'
The bride-to-be's eyes light up, and she starts to gush with enthusiastic and unqualified praise: 'Oh, I so appreciate this about him,
and he's so good at that, and he's so wonderfully thoughtful in this area, and in that area he's absolutely the best . . .'
Then, later in the weekend, I'll be with a group of wives and say,
'Tell me about your husbands.' I still get a rest, but I don't find it nearly as pleasant. The chorus goes like this: 'He doesn't do this. He never does that. He wouldn't know how to spell 'spiritual leader,'
much less act like one.'
I go back to my hotel room and ask myself, 'Where is the bridge that leads a woman to stop defining a man by what he is and start defining him by what he is not?'
The sad answer, unfortunately, is marriage. All our hopes, expectations,
dreams, and ideals get poured into this real relationship.
Because we marry a sinner, each day brings a new and often legitimate disappointment. Before long, we stop seeing what attracted us and instead become consumed by what disappoints us. Whereas before marriage our eyes filled with the glory of the person we had chosen to spend our lives with, now our eyes get filled only with their shortcomings.
I end the 'Sacred Marriage' seminar with a story about a woman who decided to marry a man who was severely disabled in a workrelated fire. While he could certainly offer emotional, relational, and spiritual support, such a man obviously will lack a lot of other things women typically seek.
'Ask yourself what a blind man with no arms and only one leg can't do for himself, much less for you,' I'll say, 'and then tell me what your husband isn't. Tell me how your wife disappoints you, or how your spouse doesn't live up to your highest ideals.'
Every day, millions of couples wake up and evaluate their marriages by asking themselves, 'Am I happier today than I was yesterday?'
but I think there's a much better question we could ask. It comes from a song I heard on the radio, with one line that goes like this: 'Ain't nobody gonna say good-bye, ain't nobody ever really tried to love you like I love you.'
The poor grammar aside, there's some good theology in there.
I'm called to love my wife like nobody ever has and nobody ever will.
I am called to be the one person so devoted to her overall good that
I commit myself to being there on her behalf, regardless of any disappointments or faults, so that on the day I die, while my wife may well remember the many bad habits I carried with me to my grave,
she might yet say, 'But you know what? That man loved me like I've never been loved; I can't imagine ever being loved like that again.' If she can say this, then I'll know I've 'succeeded' at this thing called marriage. It won't be about dying happier than other men; it'll be about whether I have truly loved.
So here's the question---more of a prayer, actually. Instead of waking up and asking yourself, 'Am I happier today than I was yesterday?'
how about praying, 'Lord, how can I love my spouse today like she [or he] has never been or ever will be loved?'
Table of ContentsContents
Introduction / 9
1. The God-Centered Spouse / 11
2. A Prayer to Remember / 13
3. Keeping the Focus Where It Belongs / 16
4. Growing Old Together / 19
5. God’s Son, God’s Daughter / 21
6. The Gift of Fear / 23
7. Don’t Look Back / 26
8. Fame Is Trumped by Intimacy / 28
9. A Soul Filled with God / 31
10. The Foundation of Fellowship / 34
11. The Heart To / 37
12. The Preyer / 40
13. Love Mercy / 42
14. One Bad Habit / 45
15. Soul Mate or Sole Mate? / 48
16. Enjoying Each Other / 51
17. Thoughtlessly Cruel / 53
18. You Deserve a Break Today / 55
19. Shaped by Sharing / 57
20. I Hold You Responsible / 60
21. The Big Picture / 63
22. If It’s Not Sin . . . / 66
23. Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts / 69
24. You’re Prime! / 71
25. Marital Ruts / 74
26. To Make Her Holy / 76
27. Marriage Is Movement / 79
28. Earthly Education for Heavenly Heights / 81
29. One / 84
30. The Happiness That Follows Holiness / 86
31. Running from Yourself / 89
32. Good in Bed / 91
33. Divine Detachment / 93
34. Make Someone Happy / 96
35. I Love Him Anyway / 98
36. A Spiritually Tight Marriage / 101
37. The Great Escape / 105
38. Sanctuary / 108
39. Real People / 111
40. A Difficult Road / 114
41. The Ministry of Noticing / 118
42. One Day at a Time / 121
43. You Don’t Understand: Role Reversals / 123
44. Worth the Pain / 126
45. What Do You Do? / 129
46. Open Marriage / 131
47. The True Image of Love / 134
48. A Call to Listen / 137
49. The Estate of Marriage / 140
50. Passive Persecution / 143
51. Kindness Matters / 146
52. Oases of Sanity / 149
Notes / 153
Acknowledgments / 155
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've read A LOT of books, but this is the BEST marriage devotional on the market! Gary Thomas shares spiritual and personal insights with a practical, down-to-earth flair. He supports his points with powerful parallels that help readers look at the gift of marriage differently. This book is right up there with all Gary's other classics.
I love this book! My husband and I have read Sacred Marriage together, so this one was great for day to day time together. This book will help you to see further how God is able to teach you about Himself through your marriage. As they say, "marriage is not meant to make you happy, but to make you holy." Well I think with this book, you can have both! Through the 52 different devotions, you can create a healthier, stronger, godlier and more loving marriage one week at a time!