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The 1 Decision that Will Bring REVIVAL to Your Marriage

Are you ready to see a big change in your marriage?

A revival?

If so, be ready to intentionally answer 4 hard-to-ponder questions, because without being intentional, how will we end up where we want to be?

After reading the title of today’s post, you’re wondering: What’s the one decision I can make that will bring REVIVAL to my marriage?

We’ll get there, but first, I want you to think of your marriage like a timeline:

If your marriage and mine were drawn on a timeline from the moment we started dating to where we are today, we may have similar stories. Of course there are many differences (kids, careers, etc.), but along our timelines there would be:

  • Highs and lows

  • Life-altering moments

  • Little day-to-day decisions

  • “Breaking” points where we put a stake in the ground and said, “No, we’re not giving up. There’s change ahead for our marriage.”

*Side note: If you’re considering giving up on your marriage, please check out the following resources (there is HOPE!):

With all that in mind, consider this first question:


What will the END of My marriage timeline look like?

I heard a story this week about a couple- Norma and Daryl- celebrating their 69th anniversary (in a nursing home). They’re still dating. It was dancing that first brought them together, so they do chair polka every day. How sweet is that?


That first question is difficult to answer, right? What will our END look like?

A lot of us don’t look that far ahead; we tend to focus on the here and now. Today seems like enough.

But if the here and now isn’t great, maybe we don’t even want to think about how it’s going to end.

Or maybe you find yourself thinking, If I can get through this next thing, we’ll be in good shape. THEN I can focus on my marriage.


But what if we did look ahead? It certainly would help us answer the second question…


What will happen between now and the end?

So often we march through the day-to-day of our marriage without eyes on the future. It’s almost like we’re biding our time until the next big, life-altering curveball is thrown our way.


But consider this: what if your marriage could experience a revival that would make all the days from now till the end amazing and fulfilling?

Does that sound tempting? Enticing? Exciting? It does for me!


A revival of our love.
A rebirth of the passion we once had.
A deep friendship based upon loving the other person without selfish motives.

There is one decision you can make that will bring the kind of lasting change you’re looking for. (Spoiler alert: you’ll need to make it daily, sometimes even moment-by-moment).

But first (I know, I know… you may feel like I’m stringing you along. Just keep following, it’s important to answer these questions before we get to the ONE THING!)...


Here’s your third hard question (a lot harder than the first two):

What would make you leave your marriage?

Is there a sin your spouse could commit that would make you leave your relationship and start a new timeline with someone else?

Maybe you have a healthy marriage - you’ve worked hard to get it to this point and you’re investing to KEEP it healthy. You don’t entertain thoughts of leaving. Even so, please consider the question: what would make you leave your marriage?


Is there a heinous sin your spouse could commit- so unforgivable in your mind- that you’d say, “That’s where I draw the line.”?

Or perhaps you’re in the other camp. Have you been…

  • Wondering (for a while) if your marriage is worth saving? Or if it’s even possible to save? (If so, read these life-changing posts: How to Save Your Marriage Alone: Part 1 & Part 2, This Isn't the Marriage of My Dreams)

  • Picturing life without your spouse? Is it tempting?

  • Waiting for your spouse to mess up, giving you an open door to exit your marriage with “just” cause?

Or is there NOTHING your spouse could do that would make you leave your marriage?

Answering these 3 tough questions sets the stage to talk about revival for your marriage.:

  1. What will the end of my marriage timeline look like?

  2. What will happen between now and then?

  3. What would make me leave my marriage?

REVIVAL FOR YOUR MARRIAGE

Charles Spurgeon says, “Revival is to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired, to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.”


In the book of Acts, there are many/several reports of spiritual awakening:

There are also dozens of times in history that God has worked to turn the hearts of a group of people, even nations, to Him. (For example, fervor for the great commission at the Mt. Hermon Conference, overwhelming joy in Toronto Outpouring, zeal for the lost in Brownsville Revival.)

Revival is NOT just an experience. It is a turning back to our original convictions.

In revival, our eyes are opened to truths we were unable to see before.

Dots are connected. Light Bulbs turn on.


Revival of our heart can start with the simple act of opening God’s Word and asking Him: Dear Lord, please help me to see and understand who You are and what You’re asking me to do. Help me take steps of faith and conviction to follow through in obedience.


Revival has been happening around our country.

There’s been a turning back to our First Love.

We don’t need to go to a certain place to have a revival of our hearts- it can happen in our living rooms, cars, ANYWHERE- but it always starts with turning our hearts to Christ.

Christ Himself compels us to do this in Revelation 2:4-5.

Revival is especially marked by the fact that all other distractions and things that once seemed so important quickly fade away. Everything is brought into sharp focus. We see clearly what seemed so muddled yesterday.


We can have revival in our marriages, just like we can have it in our hearts.

And it always starts with the same thing: a turning to Christ. In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, You will seek ME and find ME me when you seek ME with ALL your heart.

That’s a promise for us personally but also for our marriages. God NEVER hides Himself from us when we pursue Him. This is the beginning of revival.


Seek to know Christ. Who He is.

We can’t know who He is without understanding His LOVE for us. That’s because God is love (1 John 4:7-21).

And one of the best places to start is to look at HOW He loves.

He loves us with an everlasting love, faithful to the end, covenant love.


Isn’t that the kind of love we desire for our marriage? We want our husband/wife to love us with a covenant kind of love because our Creator put a deep desire in each of us for a covenant relationship with HIM.


What is covenant love?

Our God is the first covenant maker and the ultimate covenant keeper. He has proven since the beginning of time that He WILL keep His covenants with us.

He said He would send a Rescuer, a Savior, and He sent His own son Jesus Christ to pay the price we couldn’t pay.

He said He would send a Helper so we are never alone; enter the Holy Spirit (John 15:26, John 14:26).


He is the only covenant keeper


Try as we may, we will fail. Try as our spouse may, they will fail. Because we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).

We all want someone who will never leave or forsake us, but in reality, our sin causes just that: leaving and forsaking.

We think:

  • My husband doesn’t love me, he doesn’t even know me! (By the way, if you feel that deeply, be encouraged by THIS special podcast)

  • I don’t love my wife anymore, I’ve lost that loving feeling.

  • How could I ever forgive her for hurting me so badly?

  • I’ll never be able to forget the pain he’s caused; this marriage is over.

  • I’m just not getting what I need in this marriage.

We react in sin to our spouse’s sin. We sin in an attempt to protect our own hearts from hurt. (If your spouse has hurt you deeply and you’re struggling to forgive; read THIS.)


But GOD- He will NEVER break His promises; it's not in His nature to do so.

What does this mean for us? It means we must seek to keep our vows (get it? VowsToKeep!?) to our spouse, because God designed marriage as a covenant love.


Let me encourage you to study God’s covenants in Scripture. (If you’d like to do so, THIS is a great resource.)

God’s covenants are the backbone, structure, and story of His love for us.

God made covenants with His people like a bridegroom ties himself to his bride. His love knew no bounds even when His people turned their backs on Him again and again. Then God made a way for all who would believe in His name to be His bride, the Church. That way is Jesus, and He is the mediator of this New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15).

What is contract love?

Our marriage should operate in covenant love, but if we’re honest, so many daily moments between husband and wife are determined by the following:

  • Whether or not we think our spouse is worthy of our love. Has he earned it? Does she deserve it?

  • Whether or not we FEEL like loving our spouse. Our emotions for them are stirred (or not), so we give in response to that emotion (or don’t).

That’s contract love.

It says: “If you don’t hold up your end of the deal, I don’t have to hold up mine.” Our spouse will recognize contract love instantly - and it can quickly default to keeping score. (If you and your spouse want to stop keeping score in your marriage, listen to THIS.)


Why do we so easily tend toward this tit-for-tat kind of love?

It can all boil down to this: We don’t understand God and His love for us.

Every decision, interaction, word or thought in our marriage is birthed out of an understanding or misunderstanding of God - His character - His faithfulness - His covenant love.

We must first have a right understanding of GOD.

If we haven’t let the seeds of HIS love be planted, watered, and harvested in our own hearts, we will not be successful in our relationships.

Our marriage may go the distance of an ideal timeline, we may not seek divorce.

But our relationship will be a shell of what it was intended to be, because…

Without a deep understanding of Jesus’s heart for us, we won’t have the heart to love our spouse at their worst, when they need it the most.

We will find the end of our lovey-dovey emotions, and without an accurate awareness of the Father’s love for us, the happy marriage we desire will fizzle.

We must walk in the Holy Spirit’s power, with a discernment of how and where He’s working, acknowledging how we can work alongside Him in our spouse’s life. Otherwise we blindly and clumsily fumble our way through the challenges we will most definitely face on our marriage timeline.

Sin breaks our covenant with God but it doesn’t break His covenant with us. There is no sin too hideous that would make Him say, “You’ve gone too far”.

When our spouse sins, how often do we take that as license to toggle the switch from covenant love to conditional contract until they prove again that they’re worthy of such love? In light of God’s love for you … will you commit to covenant love with your spouse, no matter how they sin against you?


With that in mind, let’s get to the 4th tough question:


How has my behavior/words/attitude shown that I am treating my marriage as a covenant or a contract?

When we don’t understand God’s covenant love for us, we treat our marriage like a contract:


'I’m “god” and you didn’t follow my rules so I won’t love you or pursue you, I might even leave you. One big mistake and I’m out.'


When we understand God’s character, specifically His mercy and grace and covenantal love for us, HE is now the God of our marriage, enabling us to say:


'No matter what you do, or how many times you fail, I will lean into this relationship. I will see you as a fellow sinner (just like me). I will chase you down to bring you back to Christ’s love every single time.'

Knowing and showing Christ’s love to our spouse will always lead to our dream marriage (yes, even if they aren’t doing their part). When we respond to Christ’s love for us and then give that same kind of covenant love to our spouse, as we go down our marriage timeline, we’ll grow closer to each other and closer to the heart of God’s design for our marriage. (To learn more about God’s design and purpose for marriage, check out Is Change Even Possible for My Marriage? Yes!)


Unconditional. Loving most when it’s deserved the least. THAT's covenant love, and THAT is how our God loves us.

He’s so good. He draws us closer to Him, helping us know Him better with every step we take. (Do you want a quick dose of getting to know God? Read THIS.)


So, what’s the one decision you can make that will bring revival to your marriage? I hope you’re already grasping it…


Treat your marriage like a COVENANT, not a contract.


How?

Seek to know Christ and understand how He loves you. (An EXCELLENT resource to grow in this area is the book Deeper by Dane C. Ortlund).


God’s covenant love for you should spur you on to have a covenant love in every decision, every interaction, every word, every thought you have in your marriage.


Still wondering how God’s love will help you have revival in your marriage? Read John 15:12-17. Notice Jesus’ heart for you. Observe how He teaches US to have the same heart for our spouse. Jesus says:

12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.


How did Christ show us His love? He laid down His life for us (see verse 13 above and John 3:16).

How should we love our spouse? The same way: we lay down our lives for them by setting our preferences aside. Selfishness takes a back seat. No cost is too high.


Verses 15-16 from the above passage tell us God chose and appointed us to receive His love, then do something with it. (If you feel God nudging you to take action in your faith, listen to this 6-part podcast series, starting with Part 1 - Trim It, Live It, Prove It.)

When we are abiding in Him (understanding His love, obeying His Word) whatever we ask will align with His will - so even when we’re feeling a lack of covenant love, all we need to do is ask and it will be given to us.


Historically, has your marriage looked more like a contract? If so, from this point on, give your marriage in covenant to GOD saying, Lord, I will give YOUR best to this person, I will serve them, I will love them, I will be YOUR hands and feet in their world, even when they break their promise.

Marriage is a covenant to our spouse that says: I will give my best to you, I will serve you, love you, be God’s hands and feet in your life, not because you deserve it, not because you’ve earned it, and not even because I FEEL it. But because I understand the depths of my own sin and how far Christ has gone to love me.
I will sacrifice for you because God sacrificed for me when I was in the deepest ugliness of my own sin. I covenant my love to you from here forward because God loves us with a covenant love. And He has chosen me to show it to you in every moment of our days together.

When your heart truly decides to treat your marriage like a covenant (which will likely be a moment by moment decision), it will…

  • Revive even the most dead of marriages

  • Breathe new life into a marriage that’s just going through the motions

  • Put a firm foundation under marriages new and old.

How?

Your covenant heart will be seen in a thousand different ways to a skeptical, hurt, hopeless spouse.


Gentle and Lowly - Having the Heart of Our Savior

Jesus only describes Himself once in the Gospels.

In Matthew 11:29, He says that He is gentle and lowly in heart. Then He goes to the cross to pay for our sins with this attitude.

Stop and think about that.

The King of all Kings, the One who holds all creation together, the One whose love is truly steadfast, unchangeable, and unconditional; sacrificed Himself for us- you and me.

He conquered death and the grave, rose again, ascended to the right hand of the Father and- right at this very moment- He is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

He sees us in our sin and draws us closer to Himself as a result (Roman 5:20-6:4).

Past, present and future, Jesus lives, breathes, and acts in covenant love for us.

His heart of love moves Him to pursue us.

(Wow! I just can’t comprehend the depths of such love!)

Likewise, your heart of love for your spouse- based on God’s love for you- will move you to do things you never thought possible…

  • Sacrifice for your spouse in ways you would normally avoid

  • Speak words that build up rather than tear down

  • Go beyond your emotions to act in meaningful ways toward your spouse

As we more fully understand God’s love for us, our hearts will become gentle and lowly, like our sweet Savior’s. Our hearts will be tender and forgiving, motivated to go above and beyond in showing love to our spouse. (For more on going above and beyond, click HERE. To better understand the power of generosity, check out THIS quick read.)

Starting our timeline over with someone else won’t even be a consideration because we’ll revel in today- and all of its chances to lavishly love our spouse in covenantal fashion.


What does it look like, practically, to be gentle and lowly?

Philippians 2:1-5 teaches us about:

  1. Christ’s lowly, gentle heart of love for us

  2. What His love should do to our hearts

  3. How our heart change brings about change in our lives and marriages

Take a moment to read it:

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. (in other words, don’t do what comes natural to you: treating your marriage like a contract). He tells us what to do instead: Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.


Therein lies the first step to see revival in our marriage: Shift from our sinful, natural tendency to be selfish toward actually SEEING our spouse and what they need. Not just practical, everyday needs but what their heart needs- where they need to grow in Christ.


How do we do this when it’s not what we’ve practiced over the historical timeline of our marriage? Verse 5 above tells us: You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (The ESV says to have the same mindset as Christ.)


So, what is this mindset and how do we get it?

The purpose that a gentle and lowly mind of Christ always has is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). That includes us (we were once lost!).

This mindset is not a one time thing; something we receive supernaturally and then is ours forever. It’s a daily decision to follow Him (otherwise our minds too easily shift off-focus).

Even Jesus chose to go to the cross and suffer on our behalf.

In Philippians 2:6-8, it says: 6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.


Christ had a gentle, lowly heart and mindset- how?

He spent time with His Father, understood His love for Him and for humanity, and in that close, personal relationship, Jesus was able to humble Himself to the point of death.

Like Christ, if we want a gentle, lowly heart and mindset, we need time with our Lord.


Time with our Father enables us to:

  • Appreciate His love

  • Better understand the covenant attitude He wants us to have

  • Say “Not my will but Yours be done”

  • Be equipped to daily obey the Holy Spirit’s leading as He prompts us to live out our faith within the failings of our marriage

This understanding and mindset will renew the love you have for your spouse.

He/she will clearly see God’s love for them through your words, actions, and attitude because it won’t be YOU working within your own capabilities; you will be walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

Your spouse knows your limits, but think of it this way: when you spring into action without being asked- without any coercion whatsoever from your spouse- and you do it with joy, they’ll never know how much it cost you, but they will know God’s covenant love for them and be secure in YOUR love for them.

God intended for your heart to be 100% involved in this marriage. That’s why it’s a covenant and not a contract.

Jesus doesn’t want you to look for ways to get out of it.

He’s not half-in with us, so He doesn’t call us to be half-in with our spouse. He wants us to be ALL in (check out THIS podcast about going all in!)


Is there a sin that has divided? It’s time to make it right.

It is impossible to live in known, continual sin AND have revival in your marriage. Why? Because it’s impossible to live in known, continual sin if you truly understand your Savior’s covenant love for you (1 John 3:9).

This kind of love does one of two things:

  1. It makes you run from Jesus because at the moment, you love your sin more than you love Him

  2. It makes you run TO Jesus, humbly bringing your sin into the light and asking for forgiveness, then joyfully thanking your Savior for His love because you truly understand it

Make the 1 decision today that will bring revival to your marriage: Every day, in every thought, belief, word and deed, treat your marriage like a covenant. Covenant love brings revival.


And revival always brings clarity to this timeline of life we are on.This timeline is temporary- just the beginning of our understanding of God's love, and thus just a taste of living this kind of love in your marriage. Think how far you can go!

Revival builds a firm footing as we strive toward the end of our timeline but also strain toward what is eternal.


Vow to Change: An Encouraging Call to Action

Today’s call is simple. Ask yourself: will I make the 1 decision that will bring revival to my marriage? Will I treat our marriage like the covenant it is?

Then, pray: (from Ephesians 3:16-21)

Dear Lord, I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources You will empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit. Christ, make Your home in my heart and help me trust in You. Make my roots grow down into Your love and keep me strong. Please give me the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is. Let me experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Make me complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. All glory to You, God, who is able- through Your mighty power at work within me- to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think. Glory to You in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.


This is what it means to pray Scripture. You can’t go wrong when using God’s Word to help you pray, because you’re asking what He wants for you! Isn’t that awesome?

So, take the prayer and write it down, print it out, memorize it- whatever works for you- and pray it daily.


You should know that we at VowsToKeep are praying it over you as well.

As a side note, have you ever wondered where the name VowsToKeep comes from?

It comes from the premise that we are choosing to make a covenant with God and with our spouse to keep our vows, just like God does with us.


Find out more about the VowsToKeep marriage ministry HERE.

Go BEHIND THE SCENES with us on a special podcast HERE.

Explore our resources; we hope our weekly PODCAST and our Blog Resource Library will help you keep your vows and inspire you to love your spouse as Christ loves you.


Share this article with a friend who needs encouragement. Buttons at the bottom of the post!


Listen to the REVIVAL podcast episode with the same great encouragement HERE.

 

Did this post encourage you? Want more?

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