Looking for Life in ministry and marriage

 Life.

What a great word. Let it seep in. Life. It is in our homes. Life is in our marriages. Life is in our congregations and institutions we serve.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded that there is Life. So much of the time we feel tired, we feel drained from ministry and the daily-ness of keeping a household running smoothly, whether with two people in it or 20. We understand that it’s not really about our feelings, we know Truth and stand on it.
But feeling drained and lost and dead can translate to burnout in ministry and marriage. So we need to address it.

But…just when we feel like we’re at the end of our rope, we’re drained, and dead on our feet, we can’t serve one more person and certainly that person can’t be our spouse, God sends us His Word. God breathes the breathe of life
into us. This same God breathes the breathe of life into our marriage and our families and our ministry.  

God is Life. And that God is in us. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25) This promise is for us and for our children. 

Look around your home- where do you see Life? 
Look around your church- where do you see Life? 
It’s there. Thank Him for being Life in us and through us each day. 

I see the Spirit in you

 “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you…” (NIV)
What has control in our lives?
This is the stuff of sanctification. Are we in the flesh or in the Spirit? This is part of the sinner/saint duality of Christian living. We are fully in Christ, but our lives can get all wrapped up in the stuff of this world, even as church workers. Daily we show others the Law and Gospel and truth of Christ and then we look around at our own lives and it doesn’t seem real obvious that it is ruled by the Spirit. We are yelling at our kids, and giving our spouse the silent treatment. We gossip about the alligators in our congregation, because it makes us feel better, and we avoid reaching out as much as the next person because it’s uncomfortable. What is going on?
Well, we can thank Luther for defining this further, and for giving us a clear lens to understand these verses in. We are controlled by God and His Spirit in our hearts, even in our dark moments. We are fully sinner and fully saint. As much as we wish we could leave the sinful man behind, he’s constantly knocking at our heart’s door. We don’t need to fear the sinful nature controlling us. The Spirit does control us. We are marked as one redeemed by Christ. The Spirit lives in us.
So, we move on to putting down the sinful man. We read the Word, we talk about the Word at our table and on date night. It is part of all that we do every day in our homes and in our relationships, so that more and more it wells up in us and what can be seen is this “inner man” (Luther’s language), this working of the Spirit, the saint of the sinner saint.

And so we see the fruit of the Spirit come out, one in particular- self control. We can hold our tongue, we can overlook the small marriage slights, we can respect when we see no love and love when we see no respect, because we are ruled by the Spirit. God is, in fact, “in control” of our very hearts and minds. What freedom! Today, watch for moments to commend your spouse, telling them “I see the Spirit in you.”

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Here’s my example to get you started:

Dave-

I see the Spirit in you when…
– you take the time to lead family devotions
– you are patient when I need to share my struggle, no matter how small
– you press on when life is difficult

Am I enough?

 There are so many people in this life to please – your spouse, your family members, your congregation, community members, etc., etc. The list could go on.
So much of the time we feel inadequate, never quite meeting anyone’s expectations. Because we spend so much time spinning our wheels trying to please the people in our lives, we think that our relationship with God works this way also. We fall into subconscious works righteousness because it’s the norm. We look at our programs and ministries and marriages and wonder if they measure up to what God wants of us.
Am I submitting enough? Am I loving enough? Am I enough?
This verse tells us that in the flesh, we are not enough. It’s just the truth. We do not and will not measure up. Our ministries and our marriages will not measure up. (Wow, this is an encouraging devotion!)
But there is freedom in the truth of it. We are not enough, but Christ is. And when God sees us, He sees Christ in us. And with Christ, the Father is well pleased (Matthew 3:17). And this penetrates our lives.
This verse in the NIV reads “those controlled by the sinful nature can not please God.” We have been taken over, infiltrated by the Spirit. The waters of baptism wash over us and drown the flesh, drown the inadequacy, drown the doubt. Truth remains. The new creation is revealed. Christ and the Spirit is alive and well in our ministries and in our marriages. This is what God sees every day. He sees His work in us and in each other.
When ministry doubts and frustrations assail, when marriages struggle and eros wanes, we can remind and encourage our spouse with the truth. God is pleased with us. He loves us. He sees us as wonderfully sufficient in Christ. We no longer need to please everyone, because the One is well pleased.