Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category


women are powerfulIn preaching through 1 Peter, I find myself staring at chapter 3 and wondering how I can possibly make it relevant to 21st Century American women. I know that most women under the age of 40 will hear these verses and inwardly think, “no way…, you don’t know the man I’m married to” or “if I do that I will be taken so taken advantage of.” These verses run so counter to what schools and media portray to girls and young women that I thought it would be best to re-write the Scriptures to reflect how most American women are taught to think. If you think I am wrong, let me know, but I think this is very accurate. The bullet point is the verse restated in 21st Century societal practice.  woman power

1 Peter 3:1-6

(1)  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

  • Likewise wives, get along with your husbands, as long as they obey the Word, and do not interfere with your rights,be a woman a man needs

(2)  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

  • for they must earn your respect and will be treated as they treat you.

(3)  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—

  • Keep up with all the latest fashions, for you must present a visually successful and attractive image to influence others and keep your husband’s attention.

Woman wth meek and queit spirit(4)  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(5)  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

  • And remember this is the 21st century, and women have been empowered to lead and succeed, and no longer have to follow behind men. Your power to succeed is within you.

Sarah called Abraham Lord(6)  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

    • You no longer have to follow antiquated stereotypes, for you have the power to be your own woman. In marriage as in life, view yourself equal to men

    • So, you think I am being ridiculous? No, the idea of a 21st Century American woman being a “Sarah” and calling her husband “Lord” is ridiculous to 98% of Christian woman. This notion is laughed out of Evangelical churches. Perhaps “Godly Women” give it lip service, but in reality this is a foreign idea in modern America. Woman who follow this are looked down upon with scorn and even derision. So how does a Pastor teach this with authority and application that makes sense in modern America? He can’t without sounding either crazy or chauvinistic. However, I believe there is a way to teach 1 Peter 3 so it makes sense to a modern woman. In order to do so, we must view these verses in light of the “template” that Peter wants us to place over these verses. It is a template that came to frame his whole way of living. Stay tuned…resilient woman

      woman has to fight for it

 

woman or power

  • WE CAN DO IT WOMAN POWER

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No matter how much we were in love with each other, there will come a time when we think to ourselves: “I love my husband or spouse, but I don’t feel in love.” In fact many people come to a place where they may even say, “I don’t think I love my spouse anymore.”

The reason is quite simple.

Most of us get married to be loved, not to learn how to love. I know you are probably reacting to that statement. I was convinced I was the best person in the whole world to love my wife. God had given her to me and I was the one who could love her best. I soon discovered there were some things my wife did that I did not know how to love. I soon discovered that my love was selfish. Along with my attempts to love her came my disappointment when she did not love me the way I expected. I discovered my love was rooted in selfishness.

Our reasons for marriage usually have some flavor of selfishness, usually because we believe we will be better off, they will provide for me, they will give me what I need.

Any marriage that begins with some semblance of selfishness (don’t they all?) will be in for some kind of adjustment. At some point your spouse will fail to do something which we expected or counted on. At some point we will encounter disappointment and even hurt because something we counted on did not get done.

Marriage confronts our biggest sin – Pride.

We all bring pride into our marriage, and because of our pride, we have expectations and those expectations will be disappointed, because our spouse also has pride and selfishness.

Melittledina posted this on askmehelpdesk forum, where you can ask experts anything:

I’ve been with my spouse for now 5 1/2 years. We have two girls. Oldest is 4 years old and the youngest is 2 years old. I am UNHAPPY in my relationship. The first year we where together, when I was pregnant with are first, I discovered that he was sending pornographic photos of himself and his ex-girl-friend on the internet “Live sex chat”. I forgave him. After, I discovered that he stole money that we had for the rent and lied to me about it until I caught him red handed. I forgave him. After, I discovered that he stole his best friend’s credit card. I forgive him. After I discovered that he stole money from his boss at work and he lost his job. I forgive him. Last October, I got a phone call from another woman. HE CHEATED on me! I left him. After 1 week, he tried to kill himself, so AGAIN I forgive him. I am so tired!!! I think today that I am with him only for my children… He is a good father to them. But I can’t live like this anymore. I’ve been thinking of cheating on him to get revenge but that won’t work. I just want him out of my life…

The experts told ‘melittledina’ she needs to divorce her no-good husband for the protection of the children. Obviously Christ was not in their family. Even if ‘Melittledina’ had been a Christian, she probably would have divorced her husband. She had discovered that he had serious character flaws. He was not meeting her expectations. She still loved him, but she was no longer in love…she wanted out of the marriage. She had married for love, but she did not marry to learn how to love such a seriously flawed man.

Most of us enter marriage with dreams and expectations. At one time we were active in our love for our spouse. Then, like ‘melittledina’, we start to see character flaws, some very serious. Then, disappointment, hurt, and bitterness build up stumblingblocks to our love.

What happened to my “Soul-Mate”

The truth is that we have this concept of “soul-mate” floating around our sub-conscious. Plato taught this before Christ was born, that somehow our souls were torn in two and there is someone out there with the other half of our soul. We get married because we think we have found our “soul-mate” and it is just so easy being around them. We have fun, we laugh, there is nothing forced about our relationship. We genuinely believe we have found the one God meant us to be married to the rest of our lives.

Love is largely a feeling that produces long conversations, walks in the park, long slow kisses, and gentle touches. Our feelings are magnified to the ‘nth’ degree. We are constantly floating on clouds.

Then we get married and life happens. Life is not easy, it is very difficult. The clouds evaporate, the long slow kisses become short little pecks, the walks in the park become falling asleep on the couch.

After months or years, as our disappointment grows and the trials increase, we find ourselves wondering about our “love” and where it went. You tell your friends that you still love your spouse, but the love has changed. The feelings are not there. You wonder about this “soul-mate” thing, especially when days go by without intimacy or involved conversation.

“Bride to Be” becomes the “Bride that Was”

Do you know the difference between the bride to be and the bride that was?

It’s not the veil, or the dress. It’s your attitude! A bride to be will not hesitate to tell you all the wonderful things her husband to be is. She can go on for 5 or 10 minutes about “he does this” and “he does that”.

When you ask that same bride about her husband 5 or 6 years later, she will generally say, well, he doesn’t do this anymore, he doesn’t do that anymore…At some point your marriage will go from “what my spouse is…” to what “my spouse isn’t…”

When we get to the point in our marriage where we define our spouse by their “faults” we find ourselves in that “struggle” phase of our relationship and we catch ourselves thinking, “I love my spouse but I am no longer in love.”

In fact, we discover we have “fallen out of love” and may have thoughts of moving on. It is a difficult situation when husbands and wives no longer feel they are in love with their partners, or no longer feel that lovely intimate connection they once enjoyed. It is at this point we are susceptible to outside influences that promise more excitement than we have at home.

This situation and thinking can lead to affairs: emotional, cyber, or physical intimate relationships outside of the marriage. This is one of the most harmful and damaging of all behaviors in a marriage, potentially ending the relationship and destroying a family.

What do we do? We embrace these three ideas and bring them into our marriage:

1. Marriage is a Love Laboratory, Not a Love Spa.
2. Marriage is a Loving Relationship, Not a Love Relationship.
3. Marriage is a Dependant Relationship, Not an Independent Relationship.

Marriage is not designed to be a series of Spa Days. You just can’t lay there while your spouse massages you 24 hours a day. In fact, most folks that have been married any length of time will tell you that marriage takes work. Now I’d like to challenge that idea just a bit. Most of us don’t associate “work” with fun and excitement. Most of us “work” to survive. While we certainly have to invest our energy, time, and effort into creating a healthy marriage and while creating a healthy marriage is not easy or simple, I believe it is better to see marriage as an open laboratory that requires our energy and effort to produce a beautiful and fulfilling and loving union.

1. Marriage Requires a Laboratory of love

  • This laboratory is constantly finding what the marriage needs for proper nourishment through the various stages of life. Summer, winter, Fall, Spring.
  • This laboratory is constantly finding how much energy the marriage requires at the various stages
  • This laboratory requires 24/7 commitment, because the marriage is a delicate creature.
  • This laboratory is a busy place, because the effort to keep the marriage flourishing requires persistence and endurance, as one who runs a marathon.
  • This laboratory requires dedication, because the studying of marriage is a constant and on-going process.
  • This laboratory requires creativity, because the marriage is constantly transforming into a different form requiring creative care and adjustments.
  • Each day there are new variables that require our constant attention to this relationship. You can’t let your guard down, this is a 24/7 situation.

Marriage requires a Laboratory that provides nourishment, effort, energy, creativity, commitment… and most of all love.

2. Marriage requires a Loving Relationship.

There is a huge difference between love and loving.

We often, and in the above situation use the word, “love” to describe a general feeling of care or sisterly/brotherly love. “Love” could be used to describe ones feeling for the neighbor down the street or a stranger across the planet. It is a nice word that denotes concern and perhaps even a degree of empathy. In the past this form of love was called “philos” meaning deep friendship.

When a person says they love their partner but are not in love, these feelings are often that to which they refer. Loving, on the other hand is completely different. It is a powerful verb meaning you are doing something. You are acting. You are involved and active. It is a participatory word. Take a minute and ponder what it means for you to be loving. What sorts of actions do you do when you are loving another? Perhaps you are engaging in sexual intimacy? Maybe giving gifts? Maybe being kind and considerate? Maybe you are complimentary or demonstrating love in some way?

Now, here is the REALITY of “love” in marriage:

If you are not “in love” with your partner it is because YOU are not loving him or her.

  • When a man says, “I love my wife but I no longer am in love with her,” it means, “my wife is a good person but I am not LOVING her”
  • When a woman says, “my husband is a nice man but I am no longer in love with him”; it means “I care about my husband but I am not LOVING him”.

In other words, to truly be “in love” requires you to be actively loving your spouse! If you are not loving, you will not be “in love”.

This is a simple idea yet can have extraordinary impact on a relationship. Too often people have the mistaken notion that being “in love” just happens. This is just not so. Remaining in love with someone requires you to be loving. It requires you to engage in the relationship in loving ways. You must demonstrate and bring love to the relationship.

The more you are loving the stronger the bonds of love.

It was Jonathan Swift, the satirical author of the famous book that many of you will know from childhood, “Gulliver’s Travels”, it was he who said these words: ‘We have just enough religion to make us hate one another, but not enough religion to cause us to love one another’.

HOW DO WE TAKE A STALE MARRIAGE AND TURN IT INTO A DYNAMO OF PASSION AND LOVE?

3. We Need a DEPENDENT Relationship

I’m not talking about being dependent upon each other. Most of us are in one way or another, and that only leads to a marriage of give and take. We are all dependent upon the government, some more than others, and I don’t think that leads to a “Loving Relationship”.

What kind of dependency am I talking about? Only by depending upon God can we truly become empowered to Love our spouse as He Loves. I think we will realize this when we look at the greatest picture of “Loving” ever written by man. And it was written by someone who never married. The first three verses I have “jimized”…

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (JMZD)

If I sing “I Love You’s” with the voice of an angel and yet do not possess God’s love for my spouse, I am just an irritating hanger clanging on the closet door.

If I can capture the eyes of my spouse with mine, and know their deepest heart’s desires, and shower them with mountains of wealth and luxury, but possess not God’s love in my heart, I am just a vanishing vapor.

If I give everything I have to my spouse and even sacrifice my life for them, and yet I possess not the very Love of God, I have accomplished nothing.

Without Agape Love Your Marriage is Nothing

The emphasis on 1 Corinthians 13 is not Love, although that certainly is the subject. The emphasis is from the phrase in verse 2 and somewhat in verse three:

ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω (agapēn de may echo) (But Divine Love I Do Not Have) (I do not hold or possess) οὐθέν εἰμι. (outhen eimi) I am nothing

If you do not possess God’s Divine agape love in your heart toward your wife, YOUR MARRIAGE IS NOTHING!

Do You want a Nothing Marriage? Do you want to lie in a grave next to your wife and over you there is a headstone that reads “Our Marriage was Nothing!

No! I want to say to the world Our Marriage was Something, because God was present in our marriage. We were actively Loving Him and as a result we were actively loving each other!

Paul’s Great Discourse on the Power of LOVING…

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Here is 1 Cor 13:4-8 in a positively translated MARRIAGE PLEDGE:

A Marriage Pledge of Active Loving

  • suffereth long: I will always react to hurt with a slow boil,
  • is kind:  I will always be reaching out in kindness and showing favors,
  • envieth  not:  I will always share and rejoice in the experiences of my spouse,
  • vaunteth  not itself:  I will always seek to honor and give to my spouse,
  • is  not puffed up: I will always relate with humility and modesty,
  • Doth not behave itself unseemly: I will always be orderly and controlled and comely (attractive),
  • seeketh not her own: I will always seek to serve my spouse without expectations
  • is not  easily provoked: I will always be emotionally involved with my spouse without being overly “touchy”,
  • thinketh no evil: I will always think good or my spouse and will vaporize any hurts and unkindness
  • Rejoiceth not in iniquity: I will never think or speak of the wrongs of my spouse, especially to others,
  • but rejoiceth in the truth: I will courageously embrace truthfulness and honesty with my spouse,
  • Beareth all things: I will always bear my spouses irritations and failures and will always cover them with God’s forgiving love,
  • believeth all things: I will always believe the best of my spouse
  • hopeth all things: I will never cease to hope for God’s best in our marriage,
  • endureth all things: I will actively stand against any attacks or failings that threaten our love,
  • Charity never faileth: I will actively love my spouse forever!

If you desire a Sacred Marriage, to be TOTALLYMARRIED according to God’s Design, you must realize, you must fully embrace that Marriage is to be an ACTION VERB, not just a state of mind. It is to be not a LOVE RELATIONSHIP, but a LOVING RELATIONSHIP! Most importantly, you must realize that no man or woman can love their spouse with the ‘AGAPE’ love described in Romans 13. We must be dependent upon God for this LOVE. And if we possess God’s AGAPE Love in our heart, we will see that it is a dynamic force for LOVING our spouse. The Bible makes this abundantly clear:

The Bible Puts the LOVING in LOVE!

1. Put on love Colossians 3:14 (ESV)

  • And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

2. Follow after love 1 Corinthians 14:1 (ESV)

  • Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

3. Abound in love Philippians 1:9 (ESV)

  • And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

4. Continue in love Hebrews 13:1 (NLT)

  • Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Keep on keeping on…

5. Increase in love 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (ESV)

  • and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

6. Be fervent in love 1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV)

  • And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

7. Spur each other to love Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

  • And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV) Do everything in love.

How to Turn a Nothing Marriage into Something

Marriage is an Impossible Union without the Agape Love of Jesus Christ Loving through you. The sooner you surrender your heart to allow God to Love through you, the Sooner you can become TotallyMarried according to God’s Design.

Let’s see how we can possess God’s AGAPE love. Let’s see how God can take a nothing and make him a something. God does the same for our marriages, making them dynamo’s of His Love.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (KJV) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption and _____________: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Of God are we IN CHRIST JESUS, who of God is made unto us whatever we need – love for our spouse…

We must come to the place where we realize we cannot love our spouse the way God loves them. We must see ourselves as nothing before God. He wants no pride in our lives. He wants only His strength and His love in our lives. So we go through the Cross in our marriage, realizing that we do not have His love, that we are nothing, and then we say, “Christ lives in me!, All that He has is mine. Christ is AGAPE Love! Let me be a channel of His AGAPE Love! Once we kneel before Him as nothing, through Jesus Christ, God makes us SOMETHING! He fills us with the most powerful Love in the universe – HIS LOVE!

God’s love must be allowed to energize you. YOU hold the key to how much you love and how much you are in love with your partner. YOU have it in your mind and heart to act lovingly or not. YOU have it in your power to be loving.But you must be willing to allow God to channel His love through you, to love even the ugliness in your spouse that you have been unable to.

Love is not something that just happens. And remaining in love with your partner most definitely will not happen unless you give everything you have to God and then allow Him to change your heart. You must become “loving’ toward your spouse.

Notice how it may feel to tell your spouse, “I am loving you,” rather than, “I love you.” The first describes something you are doing, not just something that may be a feeling similar to how you feel about your childhood friend of long ago. To help you see what it means to be ‘loving’ I recommend you have this ‘Loving Kit’ handy at all times.

The Loving Kit for Sacred Marriages

  • Toothpick: Matthew 7:1 Always pick out the good qualities in your spouse
  • Rubber Band: Romans 8:28 Be flexible, things do not always go the way you want.
  • Band-Aid: Colossians 3:12-14 Take time to offer a healing hand, one full of love & grace.
  • Pencil: Ephesians 1:3 Write down a blessing because of your spouse; add to your list of blessings daily.
  • Eraser: Romans 3:23 Erase the mistakes your spouse makes as they happen.
  • Mint: Proverbs 11:25 Do something to refresh your spouse as you enjoy this mint.
  • Hugs & Kisses: 1 Peter 5:14 Don’t let the sun go down without giving your spouse at least one kiss & hug.
  • Teabag: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Stop, relax, and thank God for your spouse. Then thank them. Thankfulness goes a long way.

In order to Possess the Love of God in your heart, you probably need to do some HEART cleaning first.

Prepare Your Heart to Be Loving

If there is any resentment, any hatred, any hurt, any bitterness, any wrong relationships, any regrets, anything you are not thankful for, any wrong doing you are holding onto. You can’t have the Love of God because He doesn’t have all of your heart. You are blocking Him from some area of your life. If your spouse has wronged you and you haven’t forgiven them, you are blocking that area of your heart from God’s love. You will not hold the love of God in your heart!

Here’s what you need to do right now: Give your entire heart to God-all the pieces-all the rooms. Hold nothing back. Give your spouse to God; give all those expectations, that honey do list that never gets done. Give it all and say God, fill me with your love and allow that love to overflow toward my spouse.

If you want to rediscover those lost feelings for your spouse start by changing the way you view him. Falling into a trap where you only see the negatives in your husband is very easy to do. Make a concerted effort to only focus on the positive parts of him. Be vocal about how much you appreciate those things about him. Tell him and tell others. The more you verbalize what you find appealing about him, the more you’ll start to recognize and appreciate it.

Start doing small things for your spouse again. Quite often when a wife (or husband) starts to fall out of love with her husband she also begins to neglect him. If you did certain things early in the marriage, such as making his lunch, cooking his favorite dinner or washing his clothes, do that again. Once you start taking the time to do things for him you’ll likely see a change in him too. He’ll also want to do more for you which will help you to recognize those qualities in him that first attracted you to him.

The Loving Dare:

On two pieces of paper write the three questions below. Each partner gets one sheet of paper.

Both you and your partner answer the questions then guess how your partner will answer them. (Four answers each). Share your thoughts! Discuss your answers! Then throw it away (or give them to God. Remember, Agape Loving is not about you and your expectations, it is about being a channel of GOD’S LOVE. So while it helps to see your spouses wants and needs and be willing to meet them, you must do the thirds step in our Loving Dare, you must daily ask God to love your spouse through you in a way they have never been loved before.

The three questions:

1. What can I do to make our marriage better?
2. What would my spouse like me to do to keep our marriage alive and vibrant?
3. God, will you love my spouse through me as they’ve never been loved before?

The Ring of Death Silenced by Love

In seventeenth-century England during the time of General Cromwell, a soldier was condemned to die by execution at the ringing of the curfew bell. This soldier, however, was engaged to be married to a beautiful young girl. With tears, the girl pleaded with the judge and with Cromwell to spare his young life. But it was all in vain. The preparations were made for the execution, and the city awaited the signal from the bell at curfew. The sexton, who was old and deaf, threw himself against the rope, as he had for years. He pulled it and pulled it and pulled it, not realizing that no sound was coming from the bell. The girl had climbed to the top of the belfry, and had reached out, caught, and held on to the tongue of the huge bell at the risk of her life. As the sexton rang it, she was smashed against the sides of the bell…but the bell was silent. At length, the bell ceased to swing, and she managed to descend from the tower, wounded and bleeding. Cromwell, waiting at the place of execution, wanted to know why the bell had not rung. The girl arrived and told him what she had done. A poet recorded it for all time. This is what he said:

At his feet she told her story,
Showed her hands all bruised and torn;
And her sweet young face, still haggard
With the anguish it had worn;
Touched his heart with sudden pity,
Lit his eyes with misty light:
“Go, your lover lives,” said Cromwell,
“Curfew will not ring tonight.”

To what lengths are you prepared to go to silence the clanging, the arguing, the discord in your marriage.

To what lengths are you willing to go to change wrong and disrespectful attitudes built up over the years.

To what lengths are you willing to go to be Loving toward your spouse.

Are you willing to give your heart to God and be used by Him to be a channel of His love toward your spouse. Are you willing to let Gid use you to be actively loving toward His Son or daughter?

God has always been actively Loving you through His Son

Because of Jesus willing to go to the Cross, God threw a mantle over your sins, over every hurt and pain you caused Him, and He took the punishment for your sins, and not only that, he sympathised with our sinful flesh, and through the Power of the Cross offers us a way to be transformed from selfish sinners into Loving Saints. Sin, Satan and death have all been defeated through the cross, and you can share in that when you live your life by the Power of the Loving Cross.

That’s what God did for us. He didn’t just send a note to us saying He loved us. He didn’t just give us a loving kit. He sent His son to visibly express his Loving Heart & Ways!

Powerpoint

Sermon Video



Some things really get us excited. Having a baby is always an exciting time. You want to tell the world. As they grow and reach major milestones, we love to share with our friends, even strangers you meet at the grocery store.

Some things we don’t like talking about. We feel uncomfortable. Our faith in Christ is sometimes difficult to talk about. We have it, but we don’t know how to express it. Sex is another one of those things we just don’t talk about very much. It makes most of us uncomfortable. In fact people that talk openly and honestly about sex make us uncomfortable. So I will make most of you uncomfortable at some point this morning.

The truth is, what I am about to share with you God has been working in my heart as I have been working on my marriage relationship with my wife, as I make those strides to enter the winter of my married life with as much excitement as I did when we were first together. Some of the things I will discuss God had already revealed to me before I read “Sacred Marriage” Others, He has really opened my eyes to.

My “talk” with you this morning comes from a firm conviction that God is Lord of every aspect of our life. And because God is Lord of every aspect, He wants to be involved in everything we do. Everything. So let’s ask Him to open our hearts and eyes to how marvelous He is, and how marvelous a creation we are. Let’s do this before we have the dreaded “TALK”.

I. Communion With the Shekinah Glory

The Ark of the Testimony was constructed with two cherubim of hammered gold, who faced each other and touched wings. In this joining of the two, Exodus 25:22 records, “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I (God) will meet with you”.

God’s presence “between the cherubim” became a very popular Old Testament image.

  • 1 Samuel 4:4 “The Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim”
  • Psalm 80:1 “Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel…you who sit enthroned between the cherubim”
  • Isaiah 37:16 “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim”.
  • Hebrews 9:5 “Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory”

The Glory of God comes to us as the two beings are being joined. God dwells in the midst of this coming together.

Indeed, the basis of communion with God is always His glory. At the mercy seat we have fellowship with God. We are shadowed by the cherubim of glory. There is the Glory of God because the shed blood has made our forgiveness possible. Through the Blood God can show mercy without violating His glory. He can commune with man without violating himself.

When I commune with God at His mercy seat, it is not on the precious blood I gaze, but on His glory. The veil has been stripped away. Sinful man can behold the glory of God. The Strict Law of God has met the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. We are at one and at peace with this awesome Holy God.

Most of our holiest moments have been alone with God. We simply do not know how to enter into this intimacy with others. I can count on two hands times when I have gazed on the Glory of God in communion with others. This is very, very sad, because Jesus revealed a very important truth that the church has forgotten, and marriages have forgotten. We may know it, but we rarely experience it.

Jesus said true Christianity is meant to be shared in intimacy with God. In Matt 18:19-20 Christ offered this glimpse at the Glory of God:

Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Most of us quote this verse and believe it is a “formula” for getting God to do what we want. One of us will pray, another will say “Yes, I agree” and we expect God to do what we ask. But we miss the true meaning of this verse because we miss what Jesus was revealing:

1. You must be gathered “synagō” – Someone has led you together, it is passive, an outside force has brought you together.

2. You must be in “symphōneō”—in harmony, as an orchestra of many instruments come together to play the same note. This implies and requires an intimacy of heart and spirit.

There will be rare times where God brings people together because of a shared pain or trial, and through mutual love for each other and a mutual reaching to God, you pray together in complete trust and complete faith for what God is going to do.

Most of the time when we come together in pray, someone is wondering how long this will go on, someone will be thinking about food, someone will be thinking ‘God doesn’t care about this’ and so there is no moving together in symphony. This type of prayer is no formula; it is a work of the Holy Spirit. Just as the 120 disciples prayed for weeks before Pentecost, it took that long for them to finally come together in total agreement.

You may think these verses only apply to spiritual times. But God is Lord of every aspect of our life. God has designed marriage to have certain forces that draw us together in symphony, in harmony. Why can’t God be in those times? Why do we relegate Him to the church only? Do we think God closes His eyes when we have sex? I’ve got news for you… If God knows when you join yourself to a prostitute or to someone other than your spouse (as Paul warned the Corinthians), He certainly is there when you join yourself to your husband or wife!

Underneath our coming together is the belief in the Power of the Name of Jesus Christ. We are brought together through His Name!

The family that enjoys a deep abiding presence of Jesus Christ is precisely because the husband and wife have invited Jesus into the deeper parts of their marriage. They are not coming together to pool resources, save money, escape loneliness, or merely gain an outlet for sexual desires. They have joined their lives to deepen their faith in God. They see God in everything they do-even when it comes to their sexual relationship.

Even if you did not get married with this reason in mind, you can this day decide to maintain your marriage on that basis; Marriage can then become a favorable funnel to direct God’s presence into your daily life.

II. Sex from Different Perspectives

“Our bodies are not barriers to grace. If we could truly accept this, then we would know God even in the ambiguous delights of our sexuality.” (Evelyn & James Whitehead)

Now church is the last place you expect to hear about sex. Depending upon your age and your parents attitude, your idea of sex can range from dirty and disgusting, something you have to do, to its no big deal.

Understand that regardless of how you view sex, as a Christian, you need to have a Biblical understanding of sex and why God made us sexual beings.

A. Jewish View

To the Jews, sex was a gift from God whereby they fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant to become as numerous as the stars. Sex was reserved between a man and his wife. Sex was important for the family to multiply and extend the name of God in this world.

Sex was not only about procreation. In the Misnah, Jewish wives were given three fundamental rights – food, clothing and the right of “onah” – sexual intercourse apart from the duty of procreation.

Jewish Rabbi Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman Girondi),wrote “Iggeret ha-Kodesh (אגרת הקודש – The Holy Epistle)” in the 13th century (some dispute it). He proclaimed sex as a mystical meeting with God.

“Through the act [of intercourse] they become partners with God in the act of creation. This is the mystery of what the sages said, ‘When a man unites with his wife in holiness, the Shekinah is between them in the mystery of man and woman.” The breadth of this statement is sobering when you consider this Shekinah glory is the same presence Moses experienced when God met with him face-to-face (Exodus 24:15-18).”

He went on to write:

“We the possessors of the Holy Torah believe that God, may He be praised, created all, as His wisdom decreed, and did not create anything ugly or shameful. For if sexual intercourse was repulsive, then the reproductive organs are also repulsive…If the reproductive organs are repulsive, how did the Creator fashion something blemished? If that were so, we should find that His deeds were not perfect.” (From “The Holy Epistle,” attributed to Nahmanides)

The Torah uses the term yada—“to know”—to indicate a sexual relationship. Sex is thus considered more than a mere biological act; it involves intimate knowledge shared by two human beings.

To most Jews, sex was a gift from God whereby they could have a sacred family and propagate the world for the Glory of Jehovah. Sex was good, and nothing to be ashamed of as long as it was done it properly between a husband and wife.

B. Christian View

Christians came along, and no longer was the emphasis on a family, but the emphasis was on your individual faith in God. Through some of Paul’s writings and later the teachings of the early church fathers and the Catholic Church, celibacy was equated with “holiness or Godliness”. Sex was viewed as a totally fleshly act that would draw your heart away from God. Avoiding sex was seen as fostering a deeper faith.

At our Bible College the unwritten law for the married students was not to have sex Saturday night because it would interfere with your “spiritual” preparation for Sunday.

We must ask ourselves: If God created us as sexual beings, then he meant us to enjoy sex within the context of His guidelines. And if marriage is designed to make us like God, then how can we reconcile the Holy with something so fleshly? We must realize that God’s eyes are not closed when a married couple enjoys each other sexually!

C. God’s View

God made our bodies, and with them, some amazing sensations. While the male sexual organ has multiple functions, the female clitoris has just one—sexual pleasure. By design, God created a bodily organ that has no other purpose than to provide women with sexual ecstasy. This was God’s idea. And God called every bit of his creation “very good” – Genesis 1:31.

Betsy Ricucci has approached this issue from a feminine perspective: “Within the context of covenant love and mutual service, intimacy should be exhilarating  according to what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 5:19.

III. Sex as a Spiritual Discipline

God views sex as a discipline that can draw us into His presence.

God has placed Himself in earthen vessels through His Son Jesus Christ. God wants to show us How to use our sexuality as a spiritual discipline-to integrate our flesh and faith.

It is my desire that we can move past the negative connotations and preconceptions of sex and examine how it is possible for this fleshly experience to sharpen our spiritual sensitivities. If sex is going to turn us toward God and our spouse, it is essential that we examine sex with the understanding that

God uses Marriage and every aspect of it to make us Holy, like Jesus Christ.

God’s Word teaches us three things about sex:

  • Sex is good by design but there are things more important than sex
  • Sex allows the experience of pleasure but pleasure can never become the idol of our existence
  • Sex seasons our lives but will never fully nourish our souls.

For Sexuality to become a spiritual discipline we must change our views in three areas:

  • Adopt a Sacred View of Sex in Marriage
  • Adopt a Sacred Emotional View of Sex in Marriage
  • Adopt a Sacred View of Your Spouse

A. A Sacred View of Sex in Marriage

1.   Sex is a Mirror of our Desire and Passion for God

2.   If sex is to be a communing experience with the Shekinah of God, then it must be confined to its righteous place-between a man and a woman united in a marriage covenant before God.

Anything else is a corruption of what God intended sex to be.

Now sex by itself can be abused in a marriage relationship. If God is to be in our sexual relationship, it must embrace the components of our relationship with God-servant hood and righteous desire. Within those bookends, sex can become a powerful force for our growth spiritually.

If we are to see the positive power of sex in our marriage relationship, we must move past the hurt, shame, guilt and angst that you may have because of things you have seen and heard about outside the marriage relationship. Homosexuality, premarital sex, fantasy-laden masturbation, hard-core pornography-none of that constitutes “sex” as I am defining here.

Redefine sex as it was when Adam “knew” Eve and began to populate the world. Think of sex only within these terms and then let’s ask God to reveal Himself to you within your marriage through the gift of sexual pleasure.

God does not turn His eyes from our bedrooms. Neither should we turn our eyes from God when we share intimate moments with our spouse.

To see sex as a way of spiritual discipline, of drawing our hearts and our marriages closer to Him, it is imperative that we adopt God’s view of sexuality. God made flesh, and when God made our flesh, he created some amazing sensations. While the male sexual organ has multiple functions, the female clitoris has only one function-sexual pleasure. By design, God created a bodily organ that has no other purpose than to provide women with sexual ecstasy. This wasn’t Satan’s idea, it was God’s. And God called every bit of his creation “very good” (Gen 1:31)

Advice to Wives:

In ‘Love that Lasts’, Betty Ricucci says “Believe it or not, we glorify God by cultivating a sexual desire for our husbands and by welcoming their sexual desire for us”.

Wives, you may desire your husband’s to be more Godly, and God has given you a power to open up to your husband that God is in your bedroom. What better time to talk to your husband about God than afterwards. Shock him sometime by saying, “Glory to God”. Shock him even further by saying thank you for making me feel close to my heavenly Father.

Advice to Husbands:

I’m not going to place the entire burden for glorifying God on the wives.

The real burden is upon the husbands; because we must learn to love our wives the way Christ loved the church. His love meant death, and our proper sexual love for our wife must include death to what we want, and becoming a servant to the needs of our wives. We are the ones who need the most educating; because we are the ones God said need to dwell with our wives according to knowledge, the things we learn.

3.   Sex is to be a Shared Spiritual Experience

To bring Christ into your marriage bed, you must be brought together in His Name and you must be agreed in your spirit as to seeing Jesus honored by your sexual union.

B.  A Sacred Emotional  View Of Sex In Marriage

We often come into our marriage with sexual baggage-emotions and lusts that are corrupted by television shows and movies we have seen pictures we have viewed, bad experiences in past relationships, and bad experiences with family members. God’s Word says it is possible to bring His Divine Nature into our marriage bed, and to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and evil desires.

2 Peter 1:4 (NKJV) by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

One FOUNDATIONAL promise we must bring into our marriage bed is:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) In everything give thanks (eucharisto – express gratitude): for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

God commands us to bring gratitude into every situation we face, and if He commanded it, there is the promise of His presence.

Gratitude Must Replace Guilt

In order for Sex to become a spiritual experience, we must incorporate gratitude into our sexual relationship.

1. Practice Thanking God For What Sex Involves.

  • i.e.; a wife could pray explicitly but in all holiness “God, thank you that it feels enticing when my husband caresses my breasts.”
  • Couples can even pray together, thanking God for the pleasure surrounding the act of marital consummation.
  • This simple act of thanksgiving can sanctify an act that all-too-many Christians divorce from their spiritual life with God.
  • God designed sex to feel good, so why not thank Him?

2. Remove The Roadblocks That Hinder You From Seeing Sex As God Designed It.

  • See that Sex in marriage is honorable before God
  • If your history contains sexual abuse, you may need counseling to help gain the proper perspective on sex.
  • Our past can make us feel that sex is evil or at best to be tolerated, when in fact God means it to be exhilarating, passionate and a means of drawing our hearts to each other as well as Him.
  • Scripture in Proverbs 5:19 says our sexual intimacy should be exhilarating and even intoxicating. “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
  • Gratitude to God is essential; otherwise the powerful feelings associated with sex will cause us to focus on ourselves.

3. Deal with the Idolatry Of Sex And Obsessive Guilt Over Sex

  • Cause us to focus on ourselves
  • Gratitude turns our focus to God.
  • We insult God when we do not accept the holiness of sex and pleasure.
  • If the pain of a fast can reveal God to you, why not the pleasure of something God designed for you?

Once we have reevaluated our Theology and our emotional attitudes, we also need to reconsider our expectations-the type of intimacy we are seeking.

C.  A Sacred View Of Your Spouse

I realize to some you will think this concept perverse. But please see it in light of God’s Holy Word.

1. Your Spouse Is Also Your Christian Brother Or Sister In Christ

  • You share an eternal bond that will outlive your bond as husband and wife.
  • Your marriage should transcend mere sexuality by emphasizing your fellowship with God.
  • You are not just sexual partners.
  • The instinctive longing you have for each other becomes a real expression of lives united with God.

2. Sex must not be seen as merely a Physical Experience.

Andy Stanley in his “Twisted Truth” series exposes the lie of Satan that sex is simply an ‘activity’ or an ‘experience’. God designed sex to be the gateway into deep intimacy between husband and wife, intimacy that can include Him as well. When we engage in sex as an activity before marriage and even during marriage, it will destroy your capacity for intimacy with each other.

3. Our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19)

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

  • Husband and wives are joining together with sanctified bodies
  • God is present in our bodies through His Holy Spirit.

4. Your Body Belongs to God.

If we can use the image of our bodies as a Temple of God to abstain from sin, then we can use the same image to be drawn into God’s presence as a husband and wife are drawn into each other.

5. God’s Temple==God’s Presence

  • Not sacrilege to enjoy God’s presence as you enjoy each other sexually!
  • God is present in the temple of your body.
  • His Shekinah Glory is there in your bedroom

Otto Piper: “We have come together in God, called by Him, creating a family, serving Him, and we are now expressing, physically, the spiritual truth that he has created-we are no longer two but one!

6. This Spiritual Component Of Sex Is Key To Deliverance From Sexual Perversions.

  • When sex is reduced to pleasure alone, no wife can possibly meet a husband’s expectation.
  • Pleasure will always be fleeting.
  • Pleasure focus will always want more and different to find satisfaction that is fleeting
  • A Wife cannot be reinventing herself to satisfy the pleasure focus of her husband.
  • Plastic surgery, implants will never be enough.
  • We must find the fulfillment that comes from spiritually meaningful sex, looking for God and spiritual fellowship beneath the pleasure.

7. Every Hunger That Entices Us In The Flesh Is An Exploitation That Can Be Better Met By God.

  • Godly sex is married sex
  • Illicit sex is spiritual junk food, sweet and tasty, but eventually bad for you.

8. Sex Must Be Seen As BOTH A Physical And Spiritual Experience Of Intimacy.

From Gary Thomas: “To embrace fully marital sexuality and all that God designed it for, couples must bring their Christianity into bed and break down the wall between their physical and spiritual intimacy. Sex is about physical touch, to be sure, but it’s about far more than physical touch. It’s about what’s going on inside us. Developing a fulfilling sex life means I concern myself more with bringing generosity and service to bed than with bringing a washboard abdomen. It means I see my wife as a holy temple of God, not just as a tantalizing human body. It even means that sex becomes a form of physical prayer—a picture of a heavenly intimacy that rivals the Shekinah glory of old.

Our God, who is spirit (John 4:24), can be found behind the very physical panting, sweating, and pleasurable entangling of limbs and body parts. He doesn’t turn away. He wants us to run into sex, but to do so with his presence, priorities, and virtues marking our pursuit. If we experience sex in this way, we’ll be transformed in the marriage bed every bit as much as we’re transformed on our knees in prayer.”

IV. Practical Advice to Deal with the Power of Sex

A. Our Sex Drive is a Physiological Drive

  • Not a true physical need like food
  • You can survive life without a single orgasm
  • Predictable, Physical and emotional
  • This physical drive which seems like a need is there by God’s design.
  • Without this physiological drive many couples would slowly drift apart into their independent worlds
  • We are by nature selfish being who hide from each other.
  • Maintaining a steady pursuit toward and empathy for another human being goes against our sinful egocentric bent.
  • Reminder of our need to keep falling toward our wife, and parallels our need to keep falling toward God.

B. Place Your Sex Drive under the Lordship of the Holy Spirit

  • Focus on the spouse we have, and not the spouse we want.

C. Value the Things That God Values

  • Inner adorning
  • Acceptance of the inevitability of change
  • Character of Time

D. Give What You Have

  • We have only one body designed by Creator God
  • Accept imperfections and give yourself wholeheartedly

E.  Accept That Our Bodies Need To Connect

  • God designed us with testosterone and hormones
  • We have physical urges because of our chemical makeup
  • Sometimes you bite your tongue because you need to connect with your spouse

F. Our Need for Sex Can Work to Groom our Character

  • Men learn tenderness and empathy
  • Wives may use physical intimacy to help capture their husbands interests emotionally

G. Our sex drive literally calls us out of ourselves and into another

H. Realize the Need for Passion

  • Nothing brings out passion in a marriage like sex
  • The most distinctive people in the Bible – David, Joseph, Daniel, Abraham, Elijah all had an outspoken passion for God.
  • Their passions connected them to God, helped them to see Him in their life.
  • Just as Passion is healthy when directed toward God, sexual fulfillment in a marriage is a healthy passion,
  • The more passionate we become in one area of our life, the more passionate we tend to be about many other things.
  • A man who is passionate about his wife will be passionate about his children, his work, and his love for God.
  • If a man is frustrated or defeated or facing other sexual problems, there will likely be a cloud over his work, his faith and even his fellowship with his children and friends. Often he will be selfish and self-absorbed
  • You don’t always have to think spiritual thoughts when enjoying sex.
    • At times it will have spiritual overtones
    • Other times it will be purely physical
    • Both are holy within marriage

V. Life is to be a Celebration

God is worthy of Infinite Celebration!

As Jesus Christ entered the City of David, his disciples lined the way and showered him with palm fronds. They were cheering, shouting:  “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9 (ESV)

Luke 19:39-40 (HCSB) Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”

This phrase “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” is very important, so important as Jesus wept over the City of Jerusalem, and said that he often wanted to gather them to himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks, he said:

For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” Matthew 23:39 (ESV)

Jesus Christ Is In Heaven Looking Down At Your Marriage.

He sees the problems; he sees the rooms of your heart that you have hidden from your spouse. He knows your sexual hang ups. He is saying: just invite me into your marriage, into your bedroom. Don’t see sex as simply an experience of relief or pleasure or conquest or duty or means of control.

Rejoice in His ownership of your body and see Him dwelling in this temple of flesh. Shout out “Blessed is my husband who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is my wife who comes in the name of the Lord” Shout out Hosanna in the Highest!

Instead of lighting scented candles in your bedroom to set the mood, let me encourage you to get some stones and put them on the nightstand, in a frame on the wall. Let them remind you to see sex as a means of shouting out praises to Jesus Christ who lives within you and is present in your bedroom. If you don’t shout out praises, someday God will let you listen in as the Stones cry out to Him!

Let’s bring the Glory of God into our bedrooms!

PowerPoint Slides:

Sacred Marriage Series 5 – Sex and the Shekinah Glory


While at Baptist Bible College it was common to have conversations with a friend about some gal that had captured their heart and now they were considering asker her to marry them. My standard reply was to imagine falling into a dark bottomless pit and all the way down you could see the words flashing in neon “Forever and Ever and Ever” It was a not so subtle reference to the bottomless pit that Satan will be cast into one day.

There would be an occasional chuckle, or nervous laugh, but the truth was in our minds that marriage was a serious undertaking that impacted the rest of your life. In 1870 a wife would be lucky if her husband lived past the time the youngest child left home. In 1911 the average marriage lasted 28 years. By 1967 that average had reached 42 years. Paul Harvey got to the point that he wouldn’t even mention your anniversary unless it was 60 and most of the time 70 years of marriage.

Now 70 years of marriage would seem like an eternity to most folks. But with medical care advancing, if a couple stays together, it is no big deal anymore to see at least their 50th anniversary. We have at least three folks in our church that have been married over 60 years.

What this means is that you have an opportunity to build a real history with each other. Now with digital cameras, you might be able to remember it all.

History as A Timeline

With our American brains we see time as a line with various dates and events marked on it. It is a linear view of history. Time is the determiner of when things happen. We got married on a certain day. We had children on such and such a date, we bought this house on a certain date, we sold and bought another house, etc. The kids went to this school at such and such a date, graduated from High School, College etc. Everything fits on the timeline of our life.

Biblical View of Time and History

To understand how marriages have the opportunity to enjoy “Sacred History” it would be helpful to understand a Biblical view of History.

This is where an understanding of ancient Jewish view of History comes into play. The ancient Hebrew perception of time was not abstract like our modern view; instead, it was connected to the idea of specific events, and because of this event specific orientation the people of Israel “found the idea of a time without a particular event quite inconceivable” [Von Rad, v. 2, page 100]. So, for the ancient Jews the concept of “time” was understood only in relation to particular events: There is a time of giving birth (Mic. 5:2), a time for animals to be gathered together (Gen. 29:7), a time when kings go forth to battle (II Sam. 11:1). The tree yields its fruit ‘in its time’ (Ps. 1:3), and God gives his creatures food ‘in due time’ (Ps. 104: 27); that is to say, every event has its definite place in the time-order; the event is inconceivable without its time… [Von Rad, v. 2, page 100].

Psalm 31:15 which reads, “My times are in thy hands” [KJV,RSV]. The Jews of David’s time did not think of time like we do, they viewed life as being made of many times, or a series of times.

Biblical Jews See God as the Lord of History

Specifically, the Jews saw time as a series of specific events initiated by God. Time did not exist as an independent reality, but existed only in relation to divinely initiated events. I will use my wife to illustrate how the Jews viewed history.

My wife views our history not by dates but by whom she was pregnant with at the time. I’ll mention a particular event and say when did that happen and she’ll say – well it had to be so and so year because she was pregnant with Tonya or somebody else. If it happened when she wasn’t pregnant with any one, she can’t remember it or can’t recall the year. Her concept of time is totally event related.

All of their festivals and observances celebrated a Redemptive Act of God. The exact time was not important, but their celebration and identifying with what God did was important.

I believe in heaven that time will cease to exist. We will simply live in events in happenings. We’ll be able to participate in the crossing of the Red Sea. We’ll be able to watch as Jesus feeds the multiture. We’ll watch as Peter walks and then falls into the Sea. We’ll watch as Jesus rescue him. It won’t be a movie, it will be the real thing. Time will cease to exist, and we will be totally event oriented. It will be totally about seeing how God has redeemed us and mde us trophies of His grace.

God’s Relationship with Israel

Karl Barth (a famous theologian) was challenged by an atheist to prove the existence of God. His reply was quite simple – the Jew. For over 4000 years the Jews have kept a separate identity while all the other races of man came and went. Yet the Jewish people with their worship of Yahweh has continued on in spite of losing their land, being persecuted in countless ways down through the centuries. Still, the Jews continue on, worshiping and following the same Yahweh that revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This relationship that God has with the Jewish people is nothing short of miraculous. The Old Testament reads like a Sacred History of His love for these people. That relationship has gone through so many phases it is nothing short of a miracle that God still call them “My People.”

Exodus 6:7 (ESV) I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

God calls them “My People” because He shows His redemptive Power and Love to the entire world through His relationship with them. The good, the bad, the ugly shows to all the world that there is a God who has the power to save you if you come to Him.

Joshua 4:23-24 (NIV) For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer (1:9):

Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’

God’s History with His People is SACRED, because His Name Dwells With Them

Time after time He showed his steadfast love. He showed how He would persevere. God’s relationship with Israel has gone through various stages:

  • Times of joy and celebration
    • Deliverance from Egypt, victory at Jericho, Esther, David, Solomon
  • Seasons of frustration and anger
    • The judges, King Saul, the Jews in the wilderness
  • Times of infidelity and apostasy
    • The golden calf, the Split of the Northern and Southern Kingdom, King Ahab Jezebel
  • Times when God seemingly abandoned them
    • The Holocaust
    • Other times of persecution
  • Seasons of silence
    • After Joseph’s death until Moses
    • The period between Malachi and Matthew

God’s relationship with Israel mirrors the relationship between husband and wife

Marriage CAN be a Sacred Journey

Marriage: A long journey that two people take—and a sacred one.

Sacred –  dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of God.

Marriage is the journey of two stumbling sinners falling toward God and each other and all the while experiencing events and experiences that can demonstrate the redemption of God to a lost and dying world. You simply have to see God as Lord of your History. You dedicate your TIMES to show forth God to a dying world!

We all have a history of ‘times’ with our spouse. There were moments of labor and delivery, struggles to conceive, financial pressures, financial success, problems failures, struggles, joy. What makes that History Sacred is whether or not we see God as Lord of our History, and devote our marriages exclusively to show the steadfast and persevering love of our Heavenly Father. The events of your life, good and bad, become a testimony to God’s working in your marriage.

With God the exact dates are not important, but the fact that you acknowledge Him as the Lord of your Marrige History is! Think to the darkest moment of your marriage – God was there. Think of the greatest moment of your marriage – God was there. Every high and every low demonstrates the redemptive Love of God. Our marriage is meant to reflect the Sacred History the Jews have had with God.

God called a young man and told him to marry a prostitute. So Hosea went and found Gomer. It wasn’t long before she left him to return to her lovers.

Hosea 1:2 (NLT) When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”

You have heard the story. She leaves him, has chilren by her lovers, comes back, leaves, finally she comes back because her lovers have lost interest in her. Hosea says she will no more play the harlot. God points out the picture between marriage and His relationship with Israel:

Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT) “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’

Marriage is not always good, not always bad – sometimes it just is.

“Marriage is a long walk two people take together. Sometimes the terrain is very interesting, sometimes very dull. At time the walk is arduous for both or for one. Sometimes the conversation is lively, at other times, not much to say. The travelers do not know where they are going, nor exactly when they will arrive.”

Marriage must become good with living with routines.

To have a good marriage takes time. Working through problems, enjoying special occasions, coming together in times of setbacks. You must decide to see God in the routine of your marriage just as much as you do in the mountain top experiences. The same thing that will keep your marriage together through “sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, is the same thing that will keep you growing as Believer in Jesus Christ. It is a little thing we call perseverance.

The Spiritual Discipline of Perseverance

Perseverance is “steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.” Perseverance is different from endurance. Endurance can indicate “putting up with,” “bearing up under,” or merely “tolerating” a demanding circumstance, implying a definite passive quality. Perseverance or prokarteresis suggest more than mere toleration of a circumstance because they have definite proactive characteristics. It means “to be earnest or strong toward; to be constantly diligent; to adhere closely to; to continue instant in; to be steadfast with a person or thing.” The Greek verb proskartereo (Strong’s #4342) is most frequently translated into English as continue in.” Its closest English synonym is “persistent.” Both contain a strong sense of continuous persistence toward achieving some activity.

This quality must be rediscovered in our marriages if we are to commit to seeing the History of our Marriage as: “Sacred”. Some experts say it takes 9 to 14 years for a couple to “create and form its being” (Oliver, Conjugal Spirituality, p 33) Becoming One in your marriage takes time. The problem in America and with such a high divorce rate is that we have become a nation of quitters:

  • Job
  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Political party
  • Church
  • Faith (1 Tim 4:1)

A young lady named Marti finally got married. Before marriage she brough all this luggage of failed dating relationships and failed family relationships. After the first year of marriage Marti and her husband were experiencing some hard times, complete with the fights and frustrations that often accompany adversity in a marriage. After one bad fight, Marti prepared herself for what she thought was inevitable: her husband would leave her, just like all the others before. Her husband was a Christian fimly committed to the idea of Covenant Marriage. While she was sulking in the other room, he came into her ans said these simple words: “I will never leave you.” I will stay with you and we will work through this problem.

The Necessity of Perseverance

Luke 8:11-15
Jesus told the parable of the different soils and how the seed reacts. The thing which determined whether you had a good crop is persevering:

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (NIV)

James 1:4

James 1:2-4 (HCSB)Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Our maturity with God is directly related to our perseverance, the way we stay active and seeking Him, even though we can’t see Him through the tears. Too many people quit God, quit the Church because of some little hurt, or because the feelings are not their. Faith in God is not about Feelings. Enjoying your Sacred History together will involve time when the feeling just aren’t there.

Romans 2:6-8

God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.(NIV)

Perseverance through trials and difficulties creates beauty and meaning for your life. God will grant you glory and honor. If you are self-seeking in your marriage, and reject the truth of God’s Word, you will gain God’s wrath and anger.

  • “You have to be happy in the moment” can’t sustain a relationship
  • When couples go through normal downturns, Satan starts to whisper “you married the wrong one”

Preachers have played into Satan’s plan by bending the truth to fit the circumstances of the day. We make excuses for the Truth and open back doors of excuses and denial. Like the Christian pastor who wanted me to leave the word sublission out of my sermon to the couple i was marrying because “We ignore that Scripture in our church. We don’t see it as relevant”

Pulpits across America must stop excusing the Truth of God’s Word! We must preach the truth and the truth is that God hates divorce.

I believe the wrath of God may be upon America not necessarily because we have taken God out of the schools. God didn’t call the schools of America to preach the truth. God called His preachers and pastors and church leaders to proclaim His truth. He calls every Christian couple to be witnesses of the Gospel. That witness is the Love and Forgiveness of Jesus Christ as shown in a Marriage that is Life Long, because God’s Love is Life Long!

Preachers have stopped preaching the truth that God Hates Divorce. We excuse it, we tolerate it, we find more and more ways to make it OK. We’ve even have Divorced Pastors leading churches. If there is any wrath upon America it is because the church has become self-seeking and has rejected the truth of God’s Word.

To Reject the Truth is to Risk Gods Anger

Persistence makes no sense unless we have a keen sense of eternity. What is the focus of your heart? Is your focus on living a life that is preparation for Eternity? Perhaps God is using your difficult marriage to prepare you for your Eternity! So you have had a rough couple of years, even decades, what is that when compared with how you will spend ETERNITY?

The Bible doesn’t mention rewards for those Christians who are the happiest of have felt the least pain or experienced the least sorrow!

Priority of Sacred History is Eternal Priority.

2 Thess 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christs perseverance.

Sacred History means being persistent in doing good! Marriage goes through many seasons. Sometimes you simply have to get through it. This is merely a season, and it is foolish to quit perservering during a time when any marriage would have to adapt.

Reject Self-Seeking Behavior

If there is no heaven, divorce makes sense. But if there is heaven and God and Judgment, does the cost of divorce (God’s wrath and anger) justify the jeopardizing your future?

Divorce is a failure of love, forgiveness, patience and at the very least a failure in judgment in choosing a difficult partner in the first place. But we must realize we are all failures at some point.

According to Matthew 5:28, I and virtually every other man must be considered an adulterer. One lustfull look and Boom! we have fallen. One angry outburst “You Fool!” and I’m in danger of hell fire. (Matt 5:22). While Jesus is certainly a picture of God’s Holiness and High standards, He is also a picture of Mercy and Forgiveness.

  • He forgave the woman taken in adultery, even though she deserved to be stoned(John 8:11)
  • He told his disciples that if anyone puts their hand to the plow and then turns back, is not worth of the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
  • Yet he forgave each of His disciples for running away, and especially forgave Peter who even denied knowing Him.)Mark 14:66-72)

If you have gone through the pain and heartache of divorce, you serve no one other than the devil by fixating on something that can not be undone. The Scriptures says humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up. The is no exception clause for God grace against divorced people.

If you are in a difficult marriage, I exhort you as Jesus would to hang in there. Do more than hang, do all you can to follow Jesus commands for relationships. Most of those are contained in his sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, 7. Divorce is not the same as denying Jesus or leaving your faith, but it is a dangerous decision spiritually. However, Even God’s word has allowed that there may be conditions in which it is a right choice.

  • Matthew 19:9 records the exception for infidelity.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15 reveals the situation when an  unbelieving spouse abandons a believer.

Be AWARE of the ‘times’ of marriage that rock a couple’s intimacy

  • New born babies
  • Potty training
  • Toddlers
  • School Activities
  • Strains at Work
  • Debt and Stress
  • Empty Nesters
  • Dealing with Sick Inlaws
  • Dealing with sickness later in life

To evaluate your marriage at that point is foolish and short-sighted. By quitting or looking elsewhere you will block God from the Sacred History of Redemption that He is building in your marriage. When we leave someone, don’t pretend there won’t be spiritual consequences. God is angry when we abuse his children.

SEE THE NEED FOR A SACRED HISTORY

In these “muddied” versions of Psalm 2. I have changed the nations and Kings to read Husbands and Wives. Instead of seeking your own way, God warns us to submit to God’s royal Son (or kiss the Son in KJV) lest He becomes angry. Our persevering in our marriage is SO important to God!

Psalms 2:1-3 (NLT) Why are you husbands and wives so angry? Why do you waste your time with selfish plans? You prepare for battle; you plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” you cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at you. Then in anger he rebukes you, terrifying you with his fierce fury.
Psalms 2:10-12 (NLT) Now then, you husbands, act wisely! Be warned, you wives! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal Son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Consider the Sacred History of Joseph

Consider Joseph and his response to his wicked brothers. As you consider it, imagine he was responding to a difficult spouse:

In Genesis 50:20 Joseph tells his brothers that they intended harm to him when they sold him into slavery. He also told them that God was active in all this “in order that” (i.e. to the intended and accomplished end) good might come to him.

Family solidarity takes hard work, much imagination and constant self-criticism on the part of all the members of the sacred circle. A successful marriage is not one in which two people, beautifully matched, find each other and get along happily ever after because of this initial matching. It is, instead, a system by means of which persons who are sinful and contentious are so caught by a dream bigger than themselves that they work throughout the years, in spite of repeated disappointment, to make the dream come true.—Elton Trueblood

What if the Spouse Wants Out?

We can’t see the consequences of our divorce. We can’t predict the chaos, the confusion, the hurt and the effect upon our children and their marriages. Marriage can produce tensions and hurts so intense that reconciliation would take more energy than either partner could possess in ten lifetimes. In many cases God can provide the energy; in some cases people are just not willing to accept it, or to do what God says is needed to do. Divorce is an easy alternative. Sometimes we have divorced forced upon us. Even so, our maturity before God must be considered and become our driving motivation. Even when we are sinned against, we can grow through the experience by the grace of God.

The message of Eternity and Pleasing God and bringing glory to God is this: We draw closer to God by honoring the history of our marriage, even when our spouse leaves and divorces us. God can use this to draw us closer into His heart.

The Whole Point of Having a Sacred History is “THAT MY NAME MAY DWELL THERE”

If you want God’s Name to dwell in the History of your marriage, then you would be wise to follow these steps:

1.Realize that God has a purpose for your “Times”
2.Thank God for all the “times”, even those when you thought He forgot you or left you.
3.Ask Him to bring healing to your heart for the “times” when you were hurt or disturbed by what God seemed to allow in your life.
4.Dedicate your remaining ‘times’ to show forth God’s Remptive Love to those around you.
5.Tell your spouse you are committed to building a Sacred History with them for the rest of your life.


God-Centered SpouseDo you remember what is was like to “fall in love”? Even the wisest man that ever lived, Solomon, could not understand how a man and a woman fall in love:  “There are three things that are too hard for me, really four I don’t understand: the way an eagle flies in the sky, the way a snake slides over a rock, the way a ship sails on the sea, and the way a man and a woman fall in love.” Proverbs 30:18-19 (NCV)

While we may not understand why certain people “fall in love”, we do understand why people “fall out of love.” Because of trials, wrong priorities, selfishness, needs go unmet and two people who were once falling toward each other “in love” are falling away from each other in either hatred or indifference.

Helen Rowland states: “When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of all the other men she knew for the inattention of just one man.”

Mudpreacher and lydia datingI remember the first time I ever laid eyes on my wife to be. I was in charge of a freshman reception and was chatting with the incoming freshmen. It was outside, late August, and I was naturally checking out the incoming freshmen girls. I turned around and noticed this shy gal with the sweetest smile and expression. I went over to talk with her and her friends, but there was just something about her that grabbed my heart. She had the sweetest spirit of any girl I had ever met. Well, it wasn’t but a couple months and we were engaged, and marriage came within nine months of our meeting. (Just a coincidence)

We were flying back from our honeymoon and this guy next to me asked if my trip was business or pleasure. I said pleasure, I’m on my honeymoon. He looked at me, mystified, and said, where’s your wife? I said, a couple rows back, cuz they couldn’t get our seats together. We were still at the gate and he said, I’ll be happy to change seats. I said, “Naw, that’s ok, we’ve been together all week.”

Hopefully you can remember those days when you excitedly ran to meet your future wife or husband. You may have even met them at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap, or with a sexy nightie. But soon those days melt away to kids and diapers and headaches. If you’re lucky the kids still come to the door to excitedly greet you. But after they get older, hopefully your dog comes and greets you, wagging his tale. But once he gets too old, you are pretty much on your own.

Studies show that married couples spend an average of just 27 minutes a week actively communicating.

I’m not talking about, Honey, what do you want for dinner? You respond “Ugh” They say OK. That doesn’t count.
I’m talking about meaningful shared conversation.

Most of us fall in love, and if we are not careful, we let trials, selfishness, neglect, anger, problems lead us to fall out of love.

Two Stumbling Sinners Falling Toward God and Each Other

We need to realize it’s ok to stumble, it’s ok to fight, it ok to have struggles in your marriage, as long as you are falling the right way. Falls are inevitable, but we can take some steps that will enable us to control the direction we fall.

Just as my wife and I fell in love rather quickly, the danger is always there that we fall out of love. We learned that love is not a passive emotion. God intends us to actively engage in love, to be purposeful with our love, just as God actively uses marriage to accomplish His purpose for our lives. God wants our marriage to be much more than polite “civil” arrangements. He wants us to be dynamically involved with Him in allowing this marriage to make us more like Jesus Christ.

If you have stopped moving toward your spouse, you have stopped moving toward God. The opposite of “agape” love isn’t hate, it is “apatheia” which is no emotion, indifference, apathy. If you are not purposefully moving toward your spouse, you are indifferent toward your spouse. To make matters worse, if you have stopped moving toward your spouse, your love for God is lacking. God has inextricably combined our love for our spouse with our love for Him.

DIFFICULT FOR MEN

communication difficult for menThis active moving toward your spouse is more difficult for men.

1. Men Are Less Communicative

  • We think warm and fuzzy thoughts about our wife
  • We have trouble expressing those thoughts
  • Men do not realize the damage they do by simply staying quiet

2. Men View Independence As Sign Of Strength And Maturity

  • We must be willing to stand alone
  • God is always moving toward people
  • To flee relationship is an act of cowardice
  • Easier to get someone young
  • Maturing relationship challenges his authority and power
  • We sulk when we don’t get our way.
  • We can’t take the “give and take” of a real relationship, so we pour ourselves into our work and play.

God calls men to centrally move toward your wife. This moving toward your wife is what will mold you into the image of Christ.

There Will Be Emotional Highs and Lows

Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) wrote a little poem which expresses what many couples feel at one time or another. She directed this toward God:

Dear God,
I hate you.
Love, Madeleine

Her love for God is the foundation of her hate. Even though she hates Him at the moment, she says she still loves him. Even in the moments of anger, betrayal, exasperation and hurt, we are called to pursue this person, to embrace them and to grow toward them.

WE EACH MUST INITIATE INTIMACY

annie hallMarriage is much more than “I agree to never have sex with anyone else.” Marriage is a GIFT of SELF that goes way beyond sexual fidelity. You can have a great marriage in the eyes of the world by doing many external deeds of love, but all the while you are holding back the most precious gift-your inner self. That gift must be consciously and continually given through communication.

Verbal Communication

You need times of communicating, not just through raised voices. You each need to learn how to accommodate your spouse and their particular communication skills or lack thereof:

From Annie Hall: Alvy addresses a pair of strangers on the street:
Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you?
Female street stranger: Yeah.
Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it?
Female street stranger: Uh, I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.
Male street stranger: And I’m exactly the same way.
Alvy Singer: I see. Wow. That’s very interesting. So you’ve managed to work out something?

Physical Communication

While men certainly need to discover the importance of nonsexual touching, most wives discover that if a woman is not pursuing her husband sexually, just about every other movement toward her husband will go unnoticed.

“A wife may demonstrate her love in many ways, but it is often negated by her rejection or lack of enjoyment of sex. You may be a great housekeeper, a gourmet cook, a wonderful mother…but if you turn him down consistently in the bedroom oftentimes those things will be negated. To a man, sex is the most meaningful declaration of love and self-worth” (Love that Lasts, p 152). Men and women just have a totally different view about the importance of sex:

In the movie  “Annie Hall” you see a split screen with Annie and Alvy both in conversation with their respective therapist:

Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

Now communication either verbally or physically is not the focus of this message. (THANK GOD)
What I do want to emphasize is this, communication is important to please God and see Him working in your marriage.

  • Some of you men may say “Why should I talk to her or be affectionate when she never wants to have sex?”
  • Some of you women may say “Why should I have sex when he never talks to me or shows me he cares for me?”

The question you should ask is how can I keep moving toward God when my wife or my husband is causing me so much pain or frustration or problems. The answer will be found in how God wants you to keep falling toward your spouse when you want to do the exact opposite.

Typically a marriage book will say “Well you have to do A if you want to get B! Husbands, if you do this it will get her revved up and jumping into bed. Here is the point-if marriage is about making God happy, it involves a lot more than going to sleep with a smile on your face. God wants to use your marriage for your spiritual benefit and growth. It’s all about God remember?

MARRIAGE METHODS

Differing Approaches to our Spouse1.Self-Centered

  • Withholding Approach –Selfish, moving away, marriage is more about getting what you want
  • Wanting Approach – Basically self – centered; you realize to get what you want, you have to give a little. So you move toward each other, but you still guard yourself. Marriage is a continual process of give and take, but the intimacy is on a constant roller coaster.

2. Spouse-Centered

This is the Willing Approach. You have given your marriage to God and you realize that your spouse is important to you, right or wrong. So you pay her attention, you focus on her needs, you treat her with love. She does the same for you. It’s not always perfect, but for the most part you are willing to honor your spouse.
You can still fall short of spiritual intimacy and growth.

There is a spiritual discipline that you must consider following. It is the:

3. God-Centered

This is the Waiting Approach. You add another dimension to the willing approach. You consider God as you seek to love and communicate with your spouse. In fact, God is the very reason you fall toward her, communicate with her, have physical relations with her. You treat your relationship with your spouse as you do God. No matter what God does good or bad in your life, He is God, and you owe Him your undying devotion and attention. No matter what your spouse does or says, they are your spouse, and you owe them your undying devotion and attention. Wait means “To wait or to look for with eager expectation”

The waiting approach applies if both spouses are moving toward God, or if only one is.

  • Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
  • Psalms 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
  • Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
  • Hosea 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
  • Psalms 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

A Christian is never dependent upon the response of others to grow spiritually. He is looking to God and waiting expectantly Our relationship with God is dependent only upon our heart decisions. If you have truly given yourself to God, you will want to give yourself to your spouse. If you are holding back areas of your life from God, you will hold back parts of yourself from God.

The WAITING APPROACH TO MARRIAGE

Waiting Approach to Marriage1. God’s Will and Pleasure is Supreme
2. God uses your marriage and your spouse to refine you into likeness of Christ
3. Just as you keep moving to God, you must keep moving toward your spouse by giving yourself (whether they do or not)
4. You look to God with expectation of His provision and power in your marriage.
5. You Forgive your spouse
6. You Serve your spouse

Fellowship with our spouse that mirrors our fellowship with Christ is one which acknowledges our sinfulness and embraces His forgiveness. The challenge is not to keep on loving the person you thought you married, but to love the person you did marry! (A Sense of Sexuality, p. 197)

Falling Forward will always involve Forgiveness

Marriage must have forgivenessThe Prodigal God showed us that while the Father let the son go, he was constantly looking out for the return, so that He could fall forward upon the neck of his son. We can’t depend upon someone else to determine what we do. God was actively seeking the lost when He sent Jesus to this earth. We often use our spouse’s sin to pull back, to hold back to Withdraw. We all sin, so even in our sin we should fall forward into the arms of God and the arms of each other.

A Stonemason was charged with inscribing a headstone for a woman’s husband. He inscribed the husband’s name and this common phrase: “Rest in Peace”
A few months later the wife discovered that her husband had been unfaithful. In a fury she returned to the stonemason and had him add these words to the gravestone:
Rest in Peace…
Till we meet again.

None of us got married for the reason “It gives us an opportunity to forgive!” But we certainly must…

How to Build a Forgiving Spirit into your Life

1.See Yourself as God Sees You – A Stumbling Sinner

Spirit of ForgivenessTo constantly be moving forward to God means we must be continually forgiven. To see that same spiritual growth in our marriage, and to move toward each other, we must also practice forgiveness. We do so by realizing our need for forgiveness on a daily basis. We must see that sin is anything that we do without dependence upon God. We don’t hold up God’s Law to our spouse and say “How Could You!” If anything, we hold up God’s Law and say forgive me Father, I am unclean. I have no right to condemn.

Romans 3:20 (NIV) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

The law wasn’t created by God for two spouses to hold each other up to an impossible standard with which they can beat each other over the head. A “self-righteous” spouse is an obnoxious spouse, even though they are momentarily blameless. Eventually the spouse will slip to. The worst thing you can do is to hit your husband over the head with a Bible Verse.

2.Realize to Withhold Forgiveness is to Invite the Cancer of Bitterness into Your Life and Marriage.

Hebrews 12:12-15 (ESV)Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Focusing on the sin invites a cancer into your life. God says to lift your hands and strengthen your knees and make straight paths, so you can be healed. To not do so, to not forgive, to not seek holiness, you are blocking God from your heart. Instead, bitterness will crust and harden your heart, it will spread, and it will bring more trouble into your life and those around you. This is especially true if you are in a second or third marriage. If there is still unforgiveness from those prior marriages, you are bringing bitterness into your present marriage.

Shoah is a documentary film on the Holocaust. In one scene the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising talks about the bitterness that remains in his heart toward the Germans. “If you could lick my heart, it would poison you!”

3. Forgiveness invites God’s Healing Into Your Marriage and Life

James 5:16 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Example of Forgiveness

How Can I ForgiveGary Thomas tells of Melissa and Bryant, who after 25 years of marriage began facing a severe problem. Melissa discovered Bryant had been cheating on her. She had contracted an STD. Melissa remembers the day Oct 16 1997. She went totally numb. She tried to find answers from the Bible, but she could find none.

To compound the problem, Bryant was pastor of the church they attended, and Melissa sang on the worship team. To her horror, she remembered she was to sing this Sunday at a special service in which most of Bryant’s family would be there. One of those people was her unsaved brother-in-law who was dying of lung cancer.

Surrounded by Bryant’s family, Melissa led the worship team and listened to her husband preach. Then she watched as their brother-in-law came forward and received Christ as his Savior. She thought that even though her pain was devastating, it wasn’t bigger than God.

She remembered looking at her husband and saying “I know I have to forgive you and I’m going to. But she was not flooded with a great sense of forgiveness. She was confronted with the truth of having to forgive.” Forgiveness was the only way she could stay right with God.

In the months that followed Melissa was constantly confronted with forgiving her husband. She learned that there had been more than one affair, and she knew she was in her rights to kick Bryant out of her life. But she said “Forgiveness was the harder option, but I never felt in my heart that divorce was the right thing to do” “I’ve always lived my life by conviction and the harder road is not something I’m afraid to take.” I’ve learned that even when you are in great pain, we’re not excused from considering others and from carrying out our call to witness to God’s faithfulness.”

Melissa told Gary that forgiveness kept bitterness and anger at bay. It saved her marriage, brought Bryant around and moved Melissa many steps closer to more fully modeling the person of Jesus Christ. Melissa took the bitter juice of her marriage and by offering that to God, made spiritual honey in her life.

We love the sinner but hate the sin. Except when it comes to our spouse. Yet, turn the tables around and we love ourselves in spite of our wretched sin. We learn to forgive ourselves to maintain our own health, So why not our spouse?

“As an old man, Bill, looking back on one’s life, it’s one of the things that strike you most forcibly–that the only thing that’s taught one anything is suffering.  Not success, not happiness, not anything like that.  The only thing that really teaches one what life’s about–the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies–is suffering, affliction.”Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith by William F. Buckley, Jr. (Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1997) p. 211; quoting Malcolm Muggeridge.

(This accords with the ancient Greek proverb “pathein mathein”–“to suffer is to learn” and calls to mind that most mysterious of NT verses, Hebrews 5:8, “Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”)

A God-centered spouse who practices the Waiting Approach:

  1. Waits Upon God
  2. Gives YourSelf By Communicating
  3. Forgives Your Spouse
  4. Waits Upon Your Spouse by Serving

The Waiting Approach requires you to actually wait on your Spouse. You become a servant of your spouse.

Falling Forward will always involve SERVING

Marriage is about becoming a servantThe essence of our falling forward toward God, toward our spouse is found in Phil 2:
Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Most marriages begin by bringing certain things to the table:

  • Wife brings her body, her admiration, her dog, her funny personality, her debt, her money, her organizations skills, cooking abilities…
  • Is my wife attractive to me, will she take care of me, wash my clothes, feed me, take care of the home, keep it nice, look good when we go out…
  • Husband brings himself, his career, money, strength, confidence, hopes, dreams, debt, money, endurance, strength, cooking abilities…
  • This is why we marry: Can this guy support me, would he make a good father, do I find him attractive, will he make me feel special and loved.

If you keep expecting from your spouse, you will keep going through those withholding – wanting – willing cycles. Eventually you either get too hurt, or too tired or too anything. You end up leaving because your found someone else that meets your expectations better, or you end up settling, living as individual people separated by a wall of politeness and preoccupation with what you want to do.

A God-Centered Spouse keeps falling toward God and that spouse He brought into your life. You don’t fall away, you fall toward.

  • Forgiveness is a must to keep the hurts from piling up and building that wall of separation.
  • Servant hood is a must to keep you falling toward your spouse.

SO we must learn to ask ourselves: How can I serve my mate? Most people do not enter into marriage with the idea of becoming a servant. It is demeaning to women, and emasculating to men.

Why is it empowering to give yourself as a servant to our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet demeaning or emasculating to give yourself to your spouse as a life-long co-servant? To fully sanctify the marital relationship, we must live it together as Jesus lived His life-embracing the discipline of sacrifice and service as a daily practice. In the same way Jesus gave His body for us, we are to lay down our energy, our bodies and our lives for others, especially our spouse.

Instead of “will you do this for me”
“Will you accept what I want to give?”

You become consumed with how well you are carrying out the duty of serving your spouse.

SERVING YOUR SPOUSE

Serving Your Spouse1.Serving Because God Lives Within Me

1 John 3:16-18 (ESV) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

2.Serving Because I Want God To Live In Them

John 3:17 (NIV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

  • Serving not because they deserve it
  • Serving regardless of reciprocal treatment

3. Serving With A Willing Spirit

Eph 6:6,7 doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men (your spouse)

  • Dutiful isn’t necessarily beautiful
  • Beauty of God is reflected in our attitude and Spirit
    • Verbal expressions –sigh, puff of exasperation, rolling of eyes, hunched up shoulders, the headache grimace, grunting when I have to do something.
    • Expressed attitudes reveal a self-serving spirit, a wanting spirit, a selfish spirit.

4. Serving in Practical Matters

a.Time & Money

  • Quarrels over money reflect a demand to “own” our own life rather than serve each other with our money, our things and our existence.
  • How much am I willing to sell my marriage for-30 pieces of silver?
  • Ask, how does spending this money serve my spouse?
  • Am I putting money before my spouse?
  • Same applies to our time and the things we use to occupy it.
  • Am I spending time to serve my spouse?

b.Sex

In 1958, when Player won his first tour event in Kentucky, he was asked for his reaction to a new Callaway driver he had helped develop and used during the victory. “Like a fool, I said that if I had to choose between the driver and my wife, well, I’d miss her,” Player recalls, laughing. “A week later I’m at the next tournament in Oregon and I walk in the (hotel) room and there’s my driver on the bed with a negligee wrapped around it.

  • Sex brings a husband and a wife under tremendous relational power.
  • Sex can cure everything from depressions, to migraine headaches, although those usually keep you from wanting sex.
  • Sex between a husband and wife can be a powerful experience in serving.
  • Likewise it can reveal the lack of serving.

The problem with illicit sexual behavior – sex between other people besides a married husband and wife, is it focuses on getting. Sex becomes the preoccupation, rather Than the needs of the spouse. Each spouse should constantly be asking:

  • Is sex something I’m giving or withholding
  • Is sex something I’m demanding or offering
  • Is sex something I am using as a tool of manipulation or as an expression of generous love?
  • If God looked at nothing other than my sexuality, would he consider me a mature Christian or as a near pagan.

God-centered Spouses see God in every aspect of their marriage.

See God in Your MarriageForgiveness and Serving-two powerful results of focusing our lives on God. When our spouse errs, hurts, even abuses us, we forgive for Christ sake who loved and gave himself to us. This forgiveness is not dependent upon anything our spouse does. We must not allow any bitterness or resentment or hurt or pain get in the way of our relationship with God. We must not allow our partners sin build a wall of bitterness on our heart.

Serving is the way we see God in a more powerful way. We need to see Him in our lives, or else we won’t have the strength or the spirit to serve. We must see that by serving our spouse, we are serving God, and God will use this to open our spouse’s heart to God. We must see the importance of service in every aspect of our marriage – money sexual relations, spending time. Marriage and the willingness to serve will bring the reality of the cross to your life.

Do you see the face of God in your spouse? Do you see God as your Father-in-Law, watching the way you regard his son or his daughter.

Servant LeadershipJesus knew that the time of His death was near. He also knew that none of his disciples would stay with him. He knew Peter would deny Him, Judas would betray Him. Yet Jesus went one by one and washed their feet. Do you think he really rubbed Judas feet till they hurt? No Jesus washed each one as if he was washing the feet of His Father. He wanted God to be so much in their lives.

Becoming TotallyMarriedAre You Falling Toward Your Spouse? Or Are You Falling Away?