5 Foundational Keys to a Thriving Marriage
By Pastor Derrick D’souza
In this post, I want to share with you five things that God has taught me in my marriage that has helped me understand and enjoy this beautiful covenant of love.
1/ Follow the First-Button Policy
Your personal relationship with Jesus will determine your level of joy, happiness, enjoyment and success of your marriage. Jesus needs to be at the Center of it all. My wife and I follow the First Button Policy – You need to put the first button right on your shirt, in order for the other buttons to fall in place. Similarly for everything else – marriage, finances, career, children etc to fall in place, you got to put Jesus first in your life. The Bible says in Matthew 6:33, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and everything else will be added unto you.
We counsel many believers who are going through problems in their marriage. And all we hear is now no one understands me, no one loves me, cannot connect anymore, always arguing, etc the list goes on and on. At the root of all these issues is a lack of receiving love from God and hence one cannot give each other what one has not first received. 1 John 4:19 says, We love because He first loved us.
2/ Don’t focus on changing each other
You get married because you love one another and not because you want to change one another. You are not called to change one another or make each other your personal project of change. You can only love and love, love and love and only loving will bring the change you desire so greatly. One may ask how much should I love and forgive, the Bible says 70 times 7. It means to accept one another with all your positives and negatives and allow only LOVE to lead the way.
The only person you can change is YOU; the others you are called to love.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1).
Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.
3/ Die to yourself
Marriage is crucifixion, death to self and living for the other. When you have your moments of fights and pride where you cannot agree and you feel like quitting, remember your covenant and the vows you made between God and man. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:28-29,31 He who loves his wife loves himself. After all no one hated his own body but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the church. … for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.
4/ Don’t interchange love and respect
Husbands are called to love their wives and wives are called to respect their husbands. Never interchange the two. There are many women who are loving their husbands but failing to respect and honor them, and many husbands who are respecting their wives, instead of loving them and laying their life down for them as Christ loves the church.
God designed and fashioned men and women differently and if you meet and fulfill these requirements in your spouse according to the wisdom from God’s Word, you will see your partners bloom and flourish like a tree planted by the river.
5/ Your spouse is a gift from God
James 1:16 says, Do not be deceived my brother, every good and perfect gift comes from your Heavenly Father in whom there is no changing like the shifting of sands.
You must remember and learn this promise by heart. This will come very handy, especially when you end up fighting. To give you an example: I had prayed for a wife for many years and God finally bought my darling wife to me. One day emotions ran high, there was misunderstanding and I threw my hands up in the air and ran out of my house. I began to walk and talk to God and l started doing what my great, great, grandfather Adam did and that was to blame my wife, until God had to remind me that she is His gift to me!
All you couples must know what you have in your hand till death do you apart is God’s gift to you and not your reward for being a good person. So cherish each other!
My closing words for the husbands (or to-be) and wives (or to-be) are:
To Husbands, Proverbs 19:14 KJV – Wealth and inheritance come from parents but a prudent wife is from the Lord. Treasure her and love her only with all your heart.
To Wives, Proverbs 31:30 KJV – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting: but a woman that loveth JESUS is to be praised.
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Three Wrong Reasons To Get Married
Hello singles! Harboring a desire to get married anytime soon? Now, that’s a good desire (Proverbs 18:22), but as you read this, I encourage you to dig deep in your hearts and answer this: Why do you want to get married?
If your purpose of getting married is not aligned with the Word of God, it may cause heart breaks later.
Well, here are three wrong reasons to get married:
1. I want to get married because all my friends are getting married
The generation today is largely influenced by their peer group in their decision-making. You desire for the same phone or camera that your friend owns, if not better. You want to visit the same country that your Facebook friend has posted snaps about. And then you realise you need to get married because all the friends in your age group have a married or engaged status.
However let me remind you: The decision of marriage is something that will not only affect a season in your life, but will impact your lifetime. And as His child, God wants you to make all the decisions of your life, especially marriage, on the leading of His Spirit, and not on the basis of your friends or parental pressure. The world can go wrong, but God never will. And as a good Father who gives perfect and good gifts to His children, God doesn’t want you to play a ‘hit-and-miss’ game. He is the one who knows your end from the beginning and He wants you to depend on the wonderful counsellor and your best friend Holy Spirit for your marriage decision.
Also, comparison will only make you feel wretched or prideful, and a marriage driven on feelings is like a house built on sand that will not stand for long. Instead of comparing yourself with your friends, why not celebrate single hood? Use this season to draw closer to Jesus and seek His grace to prepare you for your next season.
Get your motive right for getting married!
2. I want to get married because I am lonely
Whoever told you that marriage is a solution for loneliness is absolutely wrong! If you are entering into marriage with this notion in your mind, that’s too high of an expectation from man.
Do you know you can be in a room filled with people and yet be lonely in your heart? Do you know there are couples married for decades together and yet lonely?
The solution to your loneliness is not marriage but a relationship with Jesus!
He is the one who completes you with His love and if you still have not invited Him in the broken and lonely areas of your heart, it would be good to do so, before even you think of getting married. Your partner cannot complete you. But when you invite Jesus into your heart, He makes you a new creation.
Loneliness is a state of mind or feeling and God wants you to renew your mind and live by faith in His Word and not by your feelings. He promises in His Word to never leave nor forsake you. He assures you that nothing can separate you from His unconditional love. It’s only when you are filled with the unconditional love of God, that you are able to give it to others unconditionally.
3. I want to get married because it will make me a better and more responsible
This is the biggest lie that you can believe concerning marriage. Very often we hear this, especially from parents of young adults. They say, “Let him get married, he will change and become more responsible.”
Listen, marriage doesn’t change anything. In fact I believe marriage exposes your weaknesses even more. I used to think I was the most patient, humble and understanding girl around until I got married and all my hidden pride was exposed.
Again marriage is not a quick-fix solution to the issues of your life, but Jesus is!
The key is to surrender your weakness, hurts, addictions to God and allow him to heal you from within and fill you with his love and grace before even you think of getting married.
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Hello readers, don’t miss reading this beautiful testimony of supernatural pregnancy and childbirth as shared our dear friend Sasha Singh from Bengaluru. Let this encourage you to believe what the Word of God says: With Him all things are possible!
My journey of beautiful pregnancy began in October 2015. At this time I had only heard of supernatural pregnancies and childbirth. But Jesus had to personally show me what it really was!
Sasha and Robin Singh with their beautiful daughter Shiloh.
I started reading Kim’s book ‘It’s Your Turn for a Beautiful Pregnancy’ soon after my marriage, and came across many testimonies of believer friends who had experienced God’s supernatural grace during their pregnancy. At that moment I prayed to God saying that even I want to experience something like this! I had also heard a lot of negative things from women concerning pregnancy, but I had a choice to make – to believe the Word or the world. Well, I chose to believe the goodness of my God!
Praise Jesus, throughout my nine months of pregnancy, I didn’t have to go through any symptoms or ‘pregnancy effects’ that normally a pregnant woman goes through. Together my husband and I believed and trusted the goodness of God in the minutest of things and He saw us through beautifully at every step. I must mention here that it is great to have a godly spouse beside you in your biggest hour of need. My husband was my biggest support in everything. He would continually pray for me and the baby and encourage me through God’s Word.
Soon, I was in my ninth month of pregnancy. One day my water bag broke and I was rushed to the hospital. Since this was my first pregnancy, as is prevalent commonly, my gynaecologist was sure that it would take many long hours for me to deliver.
My contractions had started but they were painless, which made my gynaecologist more sure that my case is ‘not gonna be quick or easy’. But when she last examined me, she noticed that I had started dilating very fast.
Since I was not getting any pain, I was induced. All the hospital staff was sure that it would take not less than 12-15 hours for my baby to come out. But praise God, within no time I had completely dilated and was ready to deliver! The hospital staff wasn’t ready as they didn’t expect things to turn around so soon. My gynecologist was not present in my room at this moment, and so all the junior doctors kept stopping me from pushing. I was urged not to push and finally when my gynaecologist arrived, my baby was out in 15 mins!!!
If you’re thinking all this must have taken many long hours, let me give you the good news: All this happened in a span of just two and a half hours! Now isn’t that a miracle?
God blessed us with a beautiful and healthy baby girl and we named her ‘Shiloh’, meaning peace. Hallelujah!
We serve a good good father
The God we serve is a good good father who delights in our well being (Psalms 35:27) and when He blesses, He adds no sorrow to it (Proverbs 10:22).
As children of God, we have been set free from every pain and curse through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. It is now for us to renew our minds and believe God’s Word for every situation we face in our lives, especially pregnancy.
We no longer have to be locked up under the consequences of this fallen world for faith has been revealed. All God’s promises can now be ours, as the Bible says in (Galatians 3:22), “so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who Believe“.
The Bible also says, (2 Peter 1:3-4) that we can partake in the divine nature and escape the corruption of this present world through the precious promises of our Lord Jesus.
All Glory to Jesus!
This post is the continuation and the conclusion of our previous post on temptation. See Help!I am Getting Tempted to read the first part.
3. Guard your senses
The Bible says: Guard your heart for out of it flows the issues of life and the easiest way to guard your heart is by guarding your senses. Your senses gateways to your mind. Ferociously guard what you see, hear, say etc. What music you listen to, what books, magazines or websites you flip through, what kind of movies you watch – for they all carry an influence. The question is: Is what I intake through my senses making me love Jesus more, read by Bible more, abstain from sexual sin and walk in holiness more? Or is it influencing me to think more about myself and my own fleshly desire for worldly and sensual validation?
4. Guard your Associations
Association births influence. So who do you associate yourself with a majority of your time? Do you surround yourself with friends who are mediocre in their thinking? Who are time wasters? Who enjoy indulging in the flesh? Well, what you tolerate, you encourage. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says: Bad company corrupts good character.
Avoid bad company and unbelieving friends, who are leading you astray from the call of God upon your life.
Instead have mentors and friends with whom you can be accountable with, who can pray with you and counsel you in the ways of the Lord. And do not neglect meeting together at church – Hebrews 10:25.
5. Know what’s at stake?
Finally and most importantly, every time you get tempted ask yourself: What’s at stake?
Temptation always follows the Esau Syndrome – trading something that is of eternal worth in order to satisfy a short term appetite. )Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a mere meal). Temptation will provide you with two choices. Sadly we often make the wrong choice because we look at the smaller picture, but there’s something bigger at stake.
So choose wisely.
Instead of choosing pornography, choose a healthy marriage.
Instead of choosing to throw junk and chemicals in your body, choose choose health. Choose life.
Instead of choosing worldly friends, choose your God destiny.
Instead of choosing temporary pleasures, choose to set your face like a flint towards your calling.
Remember what’s at stake.
Temptation, simply put, is a desire birthed in your flesh that is in direct conflict with God’s standards and can take you off course from the plan of God for your life.
We live in a fallen world and so none of us is temptation-proof. But the problem starts when we start yielding to it. And it starts little by little (like yeast, which too seems to be a small thing, but it works its way through a whole batch of dough pretty fast), and then destroys your life (James 1:14-15).
PS: The world finds everything ok under the pretext of freedom of expression. But your standards of norm are not defined by the world but by the Word. The world is slave to sin, but believers are at war with it. As long as you weigh things as per the world’s norm, you will fall into the trap of accepting it. And what you accept, you won’t fight. You are called to be different! You have the royal blood. You are a holy nation!
In the part 1 of this post we want to give you 3 keys to break free from the temptation trap. (Don’t miss reading the concluding part next week for the next 3 keys) :
1. Know your identity in Christ
Many Christians are struggling with temptation because they have not renewed their minds. Know that once you are born again, there is a new you in the inside of you (2 Corinthians 5:17). Know that the spirit in the inside of you has authority over every force of darkness (Colossians 2:9-10). Know that you have the power to take into captive every thought that is contrary to what God says (2 Corinthians 10:5). Know that you are loved and accepted in Christ (Galatians 3:26). Once you know the truth, the truth will set you free!
2. Fill yourself with the Word
The source of temptation does not lie with God or in others, or our surroundings, movies, modern girls dressing, current wicked generation, but rather all our temptations come from our own inward desires and lusts of our flesh.
Sin always begins in the mind. No one ever falls into adultery without first entertaining it in his (or her) thought life. That’ why it is so important to fill our hearts and minds with the Word. For when you walk, His Word will guide you, when you sleep, it will watch over you and when you are awake, it will speak to you (Proverbs 6:20-22).
3. Flee from it
Joseph in the book of Genesis showed us the best way to avoid the temptation trap – Flee! You need to know what tempts you, when it tempts you, where it tempts you, who tempts you, and then just stay away from those situations and people. Don’t just walk away, but run! You don’t fight it; you flee it!
Remember sin easily entangles and so it is easier to avoid than to resist. Paul counselled Timothy saying – Flee from the evil desires of your youth (1 Timothy 6:11-12). Sadly people want to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch.
Another thing worth mentioning is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, when tempted, God provides a way out so that you can stand up under it. So if you are still falling for temptations, you are simply rejecting God’s way out from it.
-To be continued
Here’s some good news!
Youversion, the world’s most popular Bible App, now has a 9 Day Bible Reading plan based on my book, “It’s Your Turn For A Beautiful Pregnancy”. It is the only reading plan on pregnancy currently available on the App.
Since the plan was launched on April 8, and as I upload this post, Youversion Dashboard tells me that around 950 people have already subscribed to the plan! Praise Jesus! It’s amazing how we have been able to reach out to so many people across the globe within a few days with the Youversion platform.
You can check out the devotional here: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/2421-beautiful-pregnancy
Please do consider sharing the above link with your friends who may need it! Thank you!
Testimony of Ethan Ezra Ambrose
Meanwhile here is a testimony of beautiful pregnancy we recently received from Cheryl Ambrose (Dubai). In her words…
When I got to know that I was pregnant, I experienced bitter-sweet emotions. We had not planned this pregnancy and it was an unexpected surprise. My life changed the minute I knew I conceived and I had many questions running in my mind – How do we manage our finances and pregnancy expenses in a city like Dubai? What about my career? Will I have a safe delivery? The list was endless…
But as I begin to meditate upon God’s Word, slowly my doubts, insecurities and fear was overcome by peace and security. It’s about that time that I began to read Kim’s book on pregnancy. It changed my perspective on pregnancy and motherhood and I decided to face my fears and worries with the Word of God. One word that really spoke to me was Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Yes, in times like these your faith has to be bigger than your fears.
The bad report
By the time I reached the third trimester I was diagnosed with a condition called Gestational Diabetes, which according to the doctors, could affect our baby and even cause pre-mature delivery. Doctors also told us that our child could be born with low sugar levels, a big head circumference and would be under observation for more than 24 hours in the NICU, post his delivery.
I was completely shocked and I broke down after I heard this report. That’s when the Word of God and His promises for our baby came alive. Me and my husband kept declaring God’s Word over the baby in my womb and pressing through in prayer and seeking the counsel of godly friends. We prayed and claimed for a normal healthy baby with absolutely no complications. Despite of what my Gynac kept saying I chose not to let that affect me. I also want to thank my husband, who was a constant pillar of support for me.
I was continuously monitored by an Endocrinologist for my sugar levels and I cannot thank God enough for him as he encouraged me to lead a healthy lifestyle and be fit.
And then came the most awaited day! On January 11 2016 our son was born with the perfect weight and with the perfect head circumference. Though he was monitored in the NICU, his sugar levels were perfect and he was discharged from the NICU in less than 24 hours.
Ethan Ezra Ambrose our little bundle of joy is 3 months now. He is the best gift to us! I love my daddy God for blessing us abundantly!