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2 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Verses marked nasb are taken from the New American Standard Bible, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org) Verses marked msg are taken from The Message. Copyright by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. Cover by Left Coast Design, Portland, Oregon Cover photo Petr Malyshev / Shutterstock Bill and Pam Farrel are represented by the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Ste #200, Colorado Springs, CO Lyrics from I Will Be Your Mirror 2004 by Boomer and Lisa Reiff. Used by permission. A COUPLE S JOURNEY WITH GOD Copyright 2012 by Bill and Pam Farrel Published by Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon ISBN (pbk.) ISBN (ebook) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, recording, or any other except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Printed in China / FC-GLD /

3 Day 1 Sentimental Journey Please grant success to the journey on which I have come. Genesis 24:42 We know something about the journeys couples take together. We have been happily married for over 32 years, and we both have over a million frequent flyer miles on our favorite airline. We have crisscrossed the globe speaking and teaching on marriage for over 20 of those years. Travel is an excellent tutor to help you hone your marriage skills. The irritations commonplace to travel the jet lag, the unpredictability of your next meal, the delays and cancellations, the constant 5

4 6 A Couple s Journey with God transitions while carrying loads of baggage are a good reflection of the average couple s marriage but compressed and accelerated to jet speed. Just like you might need help from a seasoned flight attendant to get that overstuffed bag into an overhead luggage compartment, we re here to lend you some of the wisdom we ve gathered over the miles: A great marriage is like a bullet train. The speed rail options between large metro cities like New York and Boston offer nonstop service, letting you get on and go straight through to your destination. When you said, Till death do us part, you were committing to a traveling companion for the duration. The person you start marriage with is supposed to be the same person you usher into heaven. That is God s ideal. The journey of love is easier and richer if you make it all the way together. A great marriage is like a cruise. We have been guest speakers on a few cruises, and we love the opportunity to stop at every port to go sightseeing. No one is in a hurry a cruise ship is not a jet ski! A great marriage builds in time for romance, time to

5 A Couple s Journey with God slow down, and time to enjoy the company of your mate. If you and your spouse factor in time to cruise together, love will remain strong because you will have time to remember why you first fell in love! A great marriage is like an overseas flight. When traveling great distances it s likely that you will have to make several connections, transferring planes or airlines. Many times the unexpected happens canceled flights, rerouting, and lost luggage are commonplace hassles. To be a successful traveler you have to be flexible and adaptable. You have to have the ability to keep a positive attitude when you are tired, starving, and displaced. Marriage is like that. There are so many unknowns on life s route. Every couple deals with typical transitions like becoming parents or midlife aging, but there may be surprises along the way like illness, financial worry, or prodigal kids. These surprises might make you feel like you re stranded in unknown territory. But if you re able to adapt on the go, you ll get to travel to exciting places and make great marriage memories! A great marriage is like a backpacking hike. Sometimes marriage feels like it s all an uphill climb 7

6 8 A Couple s Journey with God carrying an enormous backpack! Each year along the journey of marriage and parenting will bring with it more and more responsibilities. However, if you are prepared and remember to pack the essentials for survival, you will see some amazing sights! Let us pray over your journey together through this couple s devotional. Here is a common traveler s blessing you can use to begin your trek toward a more intimate love. Pray the words over your spouse or pray it together. The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

7 Day 2 A Life Well Lived This is to my Father s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8 We live near the mountain town of Julian, California, which is known for its apple farms, apple festivals, and apple pies! A whole economy is built from good fruit. Have you ever picked fruit? I (Pam) grew up on a farm and we had some apple trees on that property. Each fall it was the job of the children to harvest those apples, so I was an apple picker and inspector. Some of the trees produced fruit that was luscious, sweet, and bountiful, filling our bushel baskets up to the brim with tasty treats. Some of the 9

8 10 A Couple s Journey with God other trees, however, gave a smaller harvest, or fruit that was malformed and misshapen. Some trees didn t bear any apples at all! A ministry colleague said to us recently, When I look at your lives, all the wise decisions and the fruit they bore in your marriage, family, and community, I think, That is a life well lived. Wow! That is one of the nicest compliments we could ever receive. It was especially encouraging because one of our daily prayers as a couple is, Help us be so tied into You, Jesus, that we bear lasting fruit. When we look at our children and our ministry, we can tell that our prayer is being answered! Jesus talks about the kinds of fruit one can elect to produce: No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:43-45).

9 A Couple s Journey with God 11 So what is the difference between a tree that produces good fruit and one that produces bad? And how can you develop a relationship that produces good fruit? The roots: A tree that produces good fruit is rooted in the person of God. God created the two of you, so He knows how to make your relationship work best. Begin by giving control over to Jesus. Let Christ sit in the driver s seat of your life and love. The trunk: A fruit-producing tree has a wide, strong base developed by long years of growing next to the streams of living water referred to in Psalm 1:3: That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers. All the work you do as a couple rests on and stems from this solid base. The branches: A fruit-bearing love will also have the goal of pleasing the other over yourself. The best marriages have a Let s do what is best for you attitude. As you both seek what is best for the other, the branches of love will grow plentifully and strong.

10 12 A Couple s Journey with God The leaves: Like the foliage of a fruit-bearing tree, love will shelter you both from the harshness of the world. Just as vegetation is a sanctuary to the fruit from the scorching sun and the freezing storms, so kindness is a shelter that will protect your love from the cruel realities of life. We suggest you try to do something kind, thoughtful, or romantic each day, and together you will produce a love that flourishes and produces the fruit of community, respect, success at work, children who grow to be leaders, financial security, and other more intangible blessings like hope, joy, and cherished memories. Conversely, as you might guess, the tree with little or no fruit (or evil fruit, as the passage suggests) is one based on narcissism, selfishness, and self-absorption. As a couple, it is easy to say, Bless us two and to heck with you. Couples can live in selfish isolation. Worse still, we have seen couples so caught up with attaining the trappings of wealth, power, and worldly success that when one of them had a crisis in their health or an emotional trauma, the other simply cast off the spouse who was a shackle to his or her dreams. They left their

11 A Couple s Journey with God 13 mate sitting wounded, bruised, and battered by the roadside. Self-absorbed couples also produce selfcentered children who have little or no time for their parents. Be prepared to handle old age on your own if you spent your family-raising years chasing the almighty dollar! Now, money itself isn t the problem money s just a tool. However, our attitude toward money and the accumulation of worldly goods can become a consuming pursuit, and Jesus wants that place of priority in your heart. So what kind of fruit do you want your love to produce? Each day we walk with Jesus we increase the possibilities of gaining the fruit-filled life we long for. God has bushel baskets full of blessings He longs to give to the two of you. Are there any changes or course corrections you want to make in your life to gain them? Lord, make our relationship one that reflects Your heart and Your values. Help us produce ample good fruit in the lives of those around us. Amen.

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