Feb 14 2010

Love Dare - Day 40

Love Is a Covenant

 

Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.  – Ruth 1:16

 

Congratulations.  You’ve reached the end of the Love Dare – the book.  But the experience and challenge of loving your mate is something that never comes to an end.  It goes on for the rest of your life.

 

This book may end at Day 40.  But who says your dare has to stop?  And as you view your marriage relationship from this point on, we challenge you to consider it a covenant instead of a contract.  These two words sound similar in meaning and intent but are in reality much different.  Seeing marriage as a contract is like saying to your spouse, “I take you for me and we’ll see if this works out.”  But realizing it as a covenant changes it to say, “I give myself to you and commit to this marriage for life.”

 

There are many other differences between covenants and contracts.  A contract is usually a written agreement based on distrust, outlining the conditions and consequences if broken.  A covenant is a verbal commitment based on trust, assuring someone that your promise is unconditional and good for life.  It is spoken before God out of love for another.

 

A contract is self-serving and comes with limited liability.  It establishes a time frame for certain deliverables to be met and accomplished.  A covenant is for the benefit of others and comes with unlimited responsibility.  It has no expiration date.  It is “til death do us part.” A contract can be broken with mutual consent.  A covenant is intended to be unbreakable.

 

The Bible contains several major covenants as part of the unfolding story of God’s people.  God made a covenant with Noah, promising never to destroy all flesh with a worldwide flood (Genesis 9:12-17).  He made a covenant with Abraham, promising that an entire nation of descendents would come from his family line (Genesis 17:1-8).  He made a covenant with Moses, declaring that the people of Israel would be God’s permanent possession (Exodus 19:3-6).  He made a covenant with David, promising that a ruler would sit on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:7-16).  Ultimately, He made a “new covenant” by the blood of Christ, establishing an unending, unchanging legacy of forgiven sins and eternal life for those who believe in Him (Hebrews 9:15).  Never once has God broken any of these covenants.

 

And then there’s marriage – the strongest covenant on earth between two people, the pledge of a man and woman to establish a love that is unconditional and lasts a lifetime.  In marriage, your wedding ring represents your covenant vows – not merely commitments you hoped to keep but premeditated promises, publicly spoken and witnessed by others.

 

As you’ve read numerous times in these pages, keeping this covenant is not something you can do in your own strength.  There’s good reason why God was the One who initiated covenants with His people.  He alone is able to fulfill the demands of His own promises.  He alone is able to forgive the receivers of His covenant when they fail to uphold their part of the agreement.  But the Spirit of God is within you by the virtue of your faith in His Son and the grace bestowed upon you in salvation.  That means you now can exercise your role as covenant keeper, no matter what may arise to challenge your faithfulness to it.

 

Especially if your spouse is not in a place of receiving your love right now, the act of covenant keeping can grow more daunting with each passing day.  But marriage is not a contract with escape clauses and exception wordings.  Marriage is a covenant intended to cut off all avenues of retreat or withdrawal.  There’s nothing in all the world that should sever what God has joined together.  Your love is based on covenant.

 

Hundreds of years after the prophet Malachi recorded these words, people are still wondering why God withholds His hand of blessing at times from their homes and marriages.  “You say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and your wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant … For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and him who covers his garment with wrong, says the Lord of hosts.  So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:14, 16).

 

Every marriage is called to be an earthly picture of God’s heavenly covenant with His church.  It is to reveal to the world the glory and beauty of God’s unconditional love for us.  Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love” (John 15:9 NIV).  Let His words inspire you to be a channel of God’s love to your spouse.

 

The time is now, man or woman of God, to renew your covenant of love in all sincerity and surrender.  Love is too holy a treasure to trade in for another, and too powerful a bond to be broken without dire consequences.  Fasten your love afresh on this one the Lord has given you to cherish, prize, and honor.

 

Your life together is before you.  Dare to take hold of it and never let go.

 

We dare you.

 

Today’s Dare

 

Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home.  Perhaps if appropriate, you could make arrangements to formally renew your wedding vows before a minister and with family present.  Make it a living testament to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the high honor of being one with your mate.

 

He has remembered His covenant forever. (Psalm 105:8)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

Feb 13 2010

Love Dare - Day 39

Love Endures

 

Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:8

 

Of all the things love dares to do, this the ultimate.  Though threatened, it keeps pursuing.  Though challenged, it keeps moving forward.  Though mistreated and rejected, it refuses to give up.

 

Love never fails.

 

Many times when a marriage is in crisis, the spouse who is trying to make things work will go to the other, declaring in no uncertain terms that no matter what has happened in the past, he or she is committed to this marriage.  Their love can be counted on to last.  They promise.  But not wanting to hear this yet, the other spouse holds their position.  They still want out.  They don’t see this marriage lasting long-term.  Nor do they even want it to anymore.

 

The partner who has just laid his or her heart on the line, extending the olive branch, can’t handle the rejection.  So they withdraw their statement.  “Fine.  If that’s the way you want it, that’s the way it’ll be.”

 

But if love is really love, it doesn’t waffle when it’s not received the way you want it to be.  If love can be told to quit loving, then it’s not really love.  Love that is from God is unending, unstoppable.  If the object of its affection doesn’t choose to receive it, love keeps giving anyway.

 

Love never fails.

 

Never.

 

That’s what Jesus’ love is like.  His disciples were nothing if not unpredictable.  After their final Passover meal together, when Jesus told them they would all forsake Him before the night was over, Peter declared, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away … Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:33, 35).  All the other disciples echoed the very same promise.

 

But later that night, Jesus’ inner circle of followers – Peter, James, and John – would sleep through Christ’s agony in the garden.  On the way to Christ’s crucifixion, Peter would deny Him three times in the courtyard.  But at the precise moment, the Bible says Jesus “turned and looked” at him (Luke 22:61).  His men had failed Him – again – within hours of their sworn promises.  Yet He never stopped loving them, because He and His love are “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

 

When you have done everything within your power to obey God, your spouse may still forsake you and walk away – just as Jesus’ followers did to Him.  But if your marriage fails, if your spouse walks away, let it not be because you gave up or stopped loving them.

 

Love never fails.

 

Of the nine “fruits of the Spirit” listed in Galatians 5, the first of all is love.  And because the unchanging Holy Spirit is its source – the same Holy Spirit who dwells in the hearts of all believers – then the love He creates in you is unchanging as well.  It is based on the will of God, the calling of God, and the Word of God – all unchanging things. The Bible declares them “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33).

 

Only a few days ago you were Love Dared to build your marriage on the Word of God.  That’s because when all else fails, the truth of God will still be standing.  Along the way you have also been dared to be patient, to be unselfish, to sacrifice for your mate’s needs.

 

These are not just loving ideas, existing in isolation.  Each quality of love outlined in this book is based on the love of God, captured and expressed in the Word of God.  The unchanging Word of God.  No challenge or circumstance can occur that will ever put an expiration date on Him or His love.  Therefore, your love – made of the same substance – bears the same, unchanging characteristics.

 

Love never fails.

 

So today your dare is to put your unfailing love into the most powerful, personal words you can.  This is your chance to declare that no matter what imperfections exist – both in you and in your spouse – your love is greater still.  No matter what they’ve done or how often they’ve done it, you choose to love them anyway.  Though you’ve been far from steady in your treatment of them over the years, your days of being inconsistent in love are over.  You accept this one man or woman as God’s special gift to you, and you promise to love them until death.

 

You’re saying to your spouse, “Even if you don’t like what you’re reading – even if you don’t like me – I choose to love you anyway.  Forever.”

 

Because love never fails.

 

Today’s Dare

 

Spend time in personal prayer, then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse.  Include why you are committing to this marriage until death, and that you have purposed to love them no matter what.  Leave it in a place that your mate will find it.

 

He delights in unchanging love.  (Micah 7:18)

                                                      

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

 

 

Feb 12 2010

"Hold You Up" K-LOVE's Next Great Love Song and story behind it!

"Hold You Up" is K-LOVE's Next Great Love Song, written and performed by Matthew West

CLICK HERE to buy it.

 

Congratulations to Ann Mathews from Pennsylvania - her love story was the winning entry in K-LOVE's Next Great Love Song contest!  Matthew West wrote K-LOVE's Next Great Love Song for Ann and her husband, Jim, and sang it this Friday on K-LOVE.  In case you missed it, check out the link below to hear Matthew sharing the winning story. 

Matthew West reads the winning story

Or read the story for yourself ...

I met Jim when I was fourteen. I was working at a Dairy Mart and he stepped out of his car looking very handsome, dressed in full Fire Police uniform (he has been a volunteer firefighter for 37 years). I took one look and said, "I'm going to marry that man someday".

Four years of chocolate milkshakes later he asked me out and we were married 3 1/2 years later. That was 25 years ago and he still makes my heart go crazy when he walks into a room! The true love test came when at 27 I was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer and given two months to live. I watched Jim suffer more than I could've imagined...he felt so helpless. I kept telling him, God is way bigger than this and I was right!

But Jim's true love poured out to me during that time. He was the one who spent months holding my bald head and butchered body over a bucket when I was so sick I couldn't hold it up myself, all the while stroking my cheek and telling me how beautiful I was. Thirty-three surgeries and almost twenty years later he is still holding me up!

Jim stood by my side as I honored God's miracle by dedicating my life to helping children, having 2 biological, 23 foster and 4 adoptions. He is an amazing father and husband, and Christ's love shines through him every day!

Feb 12 2010

Love Dare - Day 38

Love Fulfills Dreams

 

Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.  – Psalm 37:4

 

What is something your spouse would really, really love?  And how often do you ask yourself that question?

 

Common sense tells us we can’t give our wife or husband everything they might like.  Our budgets and account balances tell us we probably couldn’t afford it anyway.  And even if we could, it might not be good for us.  Or for them.

 

But perhaps you’ve let “no” become too quick a response.  Perhaps you’ve let this negative default setting become too reasoned and rational, too automatic.  What if instead of dismissing the thought, you did your best to honor it.  What might happen if the one thing they said you’d never do for them became the next thing you did?

 

Love sometimes needs to be extravagant.  To go all out.  It sometimes needs to set aside the technicalities and just bless because it wants to.

 

Is that thinking too much like a teenager?  Is love like this no longer on the menu after so many years of marriage?  After all, with the way your relationship might be at the moment, wouldn’t it be less than genuine to indulge your spouse if your heart’s not in it?

 

Well, how about putting your heart in it.  How about developing a new level of love that actually wants to fulfill every dream and desire you possibly can.

 

Hasn’t God’s love met needs in your heart that once seemed out of the question?  You were living under such a load of sin and regret; you thought you’d never earn your way back into His good graces.  But He looked at you with love and said you didn’t have to.  He wanted you back.  He wanted you to realize your need for Him, and that as you repented and turned to Him, He would love and forgive you.  “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

 

You thought life was over when a certain setback took all the wind out of your sails.  You broke down and cried out to Him.  You prayed like you’d never prayed before.  And though it wasn’t easy getting back up and walking on, you somehow survived.  He met you with His promised peace “which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7) and kept you on your feet.

 

It wasn’t when you were behaving like an angel that God chose to pour out His love on you.  It wasn’t when you were behaving like an angel that God chose to pour out His love on you.  It wasn’t because you were so deserving that He offered you His grace.  “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Chris died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 

He’s your model.  He’s the One your love is designed to imitate.  Though you weren’t a likely candidate for His love, He gave it anyway.  He paid the price.

 

Not everything your spouse wants has a hefty price tag.  Not everything he or she desires can be bought with money.  Your wife may really want your time.  She may really want your attention.  She may really want to be treated like a lady, to know that her husband considers her his greatest treasure.  She may really want to see in your eyes a love that chooses to be there no matter what.

 

Your husband may really want your respect.  He may really want you to acknowledge him as the head of the house in front of the children.  He may really want you to put your arms around his neck for no apparent reason, surprising him with a long kiss or a love note when there’s not even a birthday or anniversary to justify it. He may really need to know that you still think he’s strong and handsome, the way you used to.

 

·        Dreams and desires come in all shapes and sizes.  But love takes careful notice of each one.

 

·        Love calls you to listen to what your mate is saying and hoping for.

 

·        Love calls you to remember the things that are unique to your relationship, the pleasures and enjoyments that bring a smile to the other’s face.

 

·        Love calls you to give when it would be a lot more convenient to wait.

 

·        And love calls you to daydream about these opportunities so regularly that their desires become yours as well.

 

We dare you to think in terms of overwhelming your spouse with love.  To surprise them by exceeding all their expectations with your kindness.  It may or may not be a financial sacrifice, but it needs to reflect a heart that is willing to express itself with extravagance.

 

What is something your spouse would really, really love?  It’s time you started living out the answer to that question.

 

Today’s Dare

 

Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable.  Commit this to prayer, and start mapping out a plan for meeting some (if not all) of their desires, to whatever level you possibly can.

 

God is able to make all grace abound to you.  (2 Corinthians 9:8)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.