Posts Tagged ‘agape’


I want to focus on the golden sash across Jesus chest. It is the sash that covers His heart. It is a Kingly sash, wore by one in authority. It is a symbol of strength for action. The material is real gold and gold is only achieved when refined by fire, indicating that He was tested, yet came forth as gold. The purity of gold over His heart represents the purity of His love.

His heart of love is the basis of His authority, His strength and His actions. His love is the foundation for everything He is and does. This is Divine Love, which we understand when we see the Real Jesus. It is a Love this world does not understand.

We need an extreme makeover of our concept of love.

We need to see the Real Jesus to understand the Love that He expects us to have in our Christian Life.

Most of us really only know phileo, brotherly love. It is love (actually friendship) based on common interests and concerns. It is usually based on our interests and concerns.

Jesus expects Christians to have agape love. He expressed what it means in Matthew 5:44 when He told us to “love your enemies”

To love (agapáō) others means to see what their need is and to meet that need, not according to that person’s concept of need, but that of the one who loves. For a believer, we are to see the needs of even our enemies and we must do everything in our power to meet that need. Believers are never told to love their enemies with the word philéō because that would mean to have the same interests as they have[1].

To See This we need to understand God calling us ‘friends’

God calls us his friend (phílos), as He did Abraham (James 2:23), when we adopt His interests as our own, just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son even as God did His own.[2]

The Son of Man, the Real Jesus Christ has a message for each of seven churches in Revelation. Each message indicates a facet or characteristic of His Divine Love, and how the church is falling short of His love. The very first church, Ephesus, thinks they love Jesus, but Jesus wants them to understand what Divine Love is really all about.

Revelation 2:1-3

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

Some clarifications of the words Jesus uses:

Jesus knows (eido). He knows these people intimately, and watches them constantly.

  • “emphasizes better the absolute clearness of mental vision which photographs all the facts of life as they pass” (Swete)[3].

Works (ergon)

  • erga; The whole life and conduct as in John 6:29[4]. “Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29
  • deed, act, action, something done[5]

Toil (kopos)

  • kópos; gen. kópou, from kóptō <G2875>, to strike. Beating, wailing, grief with beating the breast, equal to kopetós <G2870>, lamentation, wailing (Sept.: Jer. 51:3). In the NT, toil, labor, i.e., wearisome effort, generally[6]
  • Originally suffering, weariness; hence exhausting labor[7]

Patient endurance (hupomone)

  • Hupomoné is associated with hope (1 Thess. 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.[8]

Cannot tolerate evil men (Not able (ou dunēi).bear (bastasai)

  • No power to bear them. They are such a burden, you dismiss them as being a burden and drag to the congregation.
  1. Test and deny false (pseudo) apostles
  2. Patiently endured and born up for the sake of Jesus (bastazo)
  • bastázō; from básis, basis, foot. To bear, carry in the hands or on the shoulders (picturing the duty of a servant, to bear a pitcher of water). Also pictures carrying the cross.
  • Figuratively it means to bear, support, endure, i.e., labors, sufferings[9]

Not fainted or turned back. (kopiáō)

  • kopiáō; contracted kopió, from kópos, labor, fatigue. To be worn out, weary, faint[10]

Ephesus sounds like a great church. They are doing all the right things. Any Pastor would be proud of this church! But they should be a church rich in ‘agape’ Love, for Paul taught them all about it…

Paul Emphasized Love to the Ephesians

Remember Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: It was all about needing, knowing, living a life of Love, God’s Divine Love.

  • 1:5 –  “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
  • 2:4 –   “For his great love wherewith he loved us”
  • 3:17 – “that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
  • 3:19 – ” the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ”
  • 4:2 –   “bearing with one another in love”
  • 4:15 – “speaking the truth in love”
  • 4:16 –  “the body…builds itself up in love”
  • 5:2 –   “Walk in love as Christ also loved us”
  • 5:25 – “As Christ loved the church and gave himself for it”
  • 5:25, 28, 33 “Husbands love your wives” – because you picture the love of Jesus Christ.

How could the Church at Ephesus fail the Test of the ‘Golden Sash’?

But I hold this against you, that you do not love as you did at first. Remember then how far you have fallen. Repent and live as you lived at first. Otherwise, if your heart remains unchanged, I shall come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5(Phillips)

~’But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ~’Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5(NASB)

But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5(HCSB)

Jesus sees and knows intimately how hard they labor and toil and try to live a life pleasing to Him. They live good and moral lives for His name’s sake. They endure persecution for His sake.

  • However, Jesus sees that something is missing in their hearts.
  • Something about their service bothers Him.
  • Outwardly, everything is great, but inwardly, something is not right.

He sees that their duty is correct, but their devotion is missing love. They are laboring and enduring from obedience rather than love.

They have moved away, they have forgotten what made them new creations. They have forgotten the love of Jesus Christ. Instead of it being about Him, and their love for Him, it has become about the service, the duty, and the religious observances. They are serving Him simply because they should.

Jesus holds this against them.

Remember their deeds at the first? Acts 19 recounts their sacrificial love for Jesus Christ. They sacrificed everything for the sake of following Jesus!

And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19:19-20

They have Fallen

They have (aphēkes), at a particular moment, made a sad but definite departure from their fist love.

  • your first love (tēn agapēn sou tēn prōtēn). The Love you had at the first!

Aphekes pictures a definite moment in time when they left, deserted, or quit loving Jesus with all their heart mind, soul and strength. It is the same word used in Romans 1:27 that describes a man’s decision to leave the natural love of a woman and start loving a man. O yes, homosexuality is a decision, just as leaving your first love is a decision.

Remember Your First Works

The first works define your life, define your heart. The first works move you to crazy love, where you risk everything for the one you love.

  • The work of God resulted in something utterly crazy, giving His only Son to take all the sins of the world. [“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29]
  • The work of Jesus led Him to become rejected by His Father, so that He might redeem you and me.

Jesus saw their service, but He also saw their hearts, and saw that they were falling into ritual service, ritual devotion, ritual duties. They were faithfully doing their duty. They were being good people doing what good people should. But the basis for their service was no longer their agape love. They had fallen into a phileo love. Their love for Jesus was now based on their own interests and concerns. Gone was that willingness to risk it all for Jesus Christ.

Jesus never meant His followers to religious or good. He meant them to love, the same way He loved. That love was not comfortable, not good, but it risked everything.

The Ephesians needed to repent. You need to ask yourself, do I need to repent?

  1. They had made a definite decision, which weakened their love.
  2. Their decision resulted in a fall from Divine Love, the only Love, which pleases the Lord.
  3. Their decision resulted in duty not devotion.
  4. Their decision resulted in the Lord’s demand for repentance and return.
  • Decision: to love something other than Jesus Christ, or to disobey his commands
  • Fall: Change of focus meant that the throne of God lost its power

Leaving their first love meant that sacrifice and devotion gave way to duty and observances.

The impact of this letter to the Ephesians is seen in answering the following questions from what Jesus said in the Gospels.

How Does Jesus Define Divine Love?

Divine Love is Crazy, with no concern for yourself, your safety, your possessions or even your reputation:

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect (COMPLETE, FULL), as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Luke 6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

What is the Source of Divine Love?

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26

You must know and be convinced of the Power of God’s Name if you are to risk everything for the sake of Jesus Christ.

What Causes us to lose our Divine Love?

A. NEGLECT OF THE WORD: Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:23-24

B. Other or Divided Interests: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24

C. FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

D. CHOSE COMFORT vs. SACRIFICE: READ MATT 19:17-21 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect (complete, full), go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”.

How important is it that we have Divine Love?

John 5:40-44 “yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Divine Love is Fullness of life!

Be Full and Complete as the Father is Full! Only when you risk it all do you know true love and fullness! Which would you rather eat-the fruit of the forbidden tree or the fruit of the tree of life! Those that keep their first love will eat of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden, where life was complete, full, until sin entered the world. The Tree of Life will be in the New Heavens, when God’s plan is fulfilled, and life on earth is full!

The world teaches that fullness of life is in possessions and money, a prestigious career, the number of friends you have, or even your family.

But Jesus said “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:35-36

Divine Love is Fullness of Life…Fullness of Life comes to those willing to risk it all for His sake!

What are the consequences of fallen love?

In His letter to the church, the danger was the removal of the candlestick, which signifies the removal of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Today Ephesus lies in ruins, and the church is long gone.

  • Worship Devoid of the Spirit

Across the world there are churches that look like churches, act like churches, but the Divine Love of God is not in them. The Holy Spirit is not there. They are functioning out of a mistaken sense of duty. There may be a supposed love for Jesus, but they have fallen from His standards. They are down, serving in their fleshly strength. They are not living in the fullness of Christ of His love, of His word. They are like the Pharisees, content in their religious observances, yet on their way to Hell.

  • Children, teens Abandon the Church

The other consequence is that our children grow up with a concept of religion, but no concept of loving a real Jesus. Therefore, they rebel against religion for the sake of religion, and seek after something else that fills the void in their heart.

  • A Nation that is Outwardly Moral but inwardly Corrupt

How do we return to our first love?

Jesus said we are to do three things:

A.Remember

  1. Remember what He has done for you
  2. Remember what you were willing to do at first.

B.Repent

  1. Change your heart focus,
  2. Get rid of those things that have captured your affections, that have taken the place of Jesus Christ.

C.Return

  1. Do what you did when you first came to Jesus
  2. Live for Him totally.
  3. Risk it all for Him

David Left His First Love

PSALMS 51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

David returned to his first love, singing and writing the Psalms, teaching others of the ways of God!

Peter Left His First Love

John 21:15-18 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep”. He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

Peter had left his first love, even denying Christ, and returning to the thing he loved most-fishing. Yet, when confronted by Jesus, he could only confess deep emotions for Jesus. He was not quite ready to confess agape love, that love that risks everything, sacrifices everything. Still, Jesus said, feed and care for my sheep. You will one day know that agape love.

Return to the works you did at the first. Return to the time you depended upon me for everything. The agape will return. You will regain your first love. You will sacrifice, you will risk it all!

Peter returned to His agape love, and He teaches us the importance of it in his last letter. Look at what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3-11:

2 Peter 1:3-11 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with (phileo) brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with (agape) love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11

  • You will never fall as I did. You will keep your first love!

Do You See the Real Jesus? Do you see His Golden Sash? Do You Pass the Gold Sash Test.? Do You Love Him with Divine Love?

Have you fallen into comfort and complacency? Are you still doing the first works? Are you still risking everything for Jesus Christ? Perhaps you never did, perhaps you are not a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you never loved Him with agape love. You need to make sure you are a Christian. You need to repent and love Jesus with agape, sacrificing, risking it all kind of love!

Do you really want to Know Divine Love?
Do you want to see the Real Jesus?

Turn with me to Hebrews 13:12

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. Hebrews 13:12-13

Outside the Camp is Where we Find Agape Love

Jesus Christ died to set apart a people unto God. If we truly love Him, we must go to where He was willing to go – outside the camp.

  • ‘Outside the camp’ is where the lepers were kept.
  • ‘Outside the camp’ is where murderers were sent.
  • ‘Outside the camp’ is where the beggar begged as the apostles walked through the gate.
  • ‘Outside the camp’ was where all who were to be separated from society at large were to be kept.

‘Outside the camp’ is where we were called to ‘go to him’ and ‘bear the reproach he endured’ – death. Death to our comfort, death to our desires, death to our reputation.

Going Outside the Camp is where we discover the Love of the Golden Sash.

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. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;1 John 3:16-19

  • Divine Love risks it all for the city that is to come.
  • Whatever you lose in this life will be made up 1000 fold in the life to come.
  • We can either retreat and perish in the wilderness
  • We can risk it all for the love of Jesus Christ, who risked it all for us.

In the 1600’s there was a man named Joseph Aline and he wrote a book entitled An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners.Let me close our time with what he said.

“All of Christ is accented by the sincere convert. He loves not only the wages, but the work of Christ. Not only the benefits but the burden of Christ. He’s willing not only to tread out the corn but to draw under the yoke. He takes up the command of Christ, yea, even the cross of Christ. The unsound man closes by halves with Christ. He’s all for the salvation of Christ but he’s not for sanctification. He is for the privileges but appropriates not the person of Christ. He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the foundation. Who so loveth life let him beware here. It is an undoing mistake of which you have beenoften warned and yet none is more common. Jesus is a sweet name but men love not the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They divide what God has joined, the King and the Priest, yea they will not accept the salvation of Christ as He intends it. They divide it, every man’s vote is for salvation from suffering but they desire not to be saved from sinning. They would have their lives saved but with all would have their lusts. Yea, many divide here again, they would be content to have some of their sins destroyed but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah or divorce the beloved Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand. The Lord must pardon then in this thing. 0 be careful here, your soul depends on it. The sound convert takes a whole Christ, takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He’s willing to have Christ upon any terms. He’s willing to have the dominion of Christ as well as deliverance by Christ and he says with Paul, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “phileo”.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Archibald Thomas Robertson, A.M., D.D., LL.D., Litt. D., Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1930), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Revelation 2:2”.

[4] ibid.

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 650.

[6] ibid, 877.

[7] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Revelation 2:2”.

[8] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hupomone”.

[9] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 328.

[10] Ibid, under kopiáō.

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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


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?


jesus feed the disciplesThe Elder Brother is listening to his father beg him to join the feast. Suddenly he gets it! In a true story we see a group of Elder Brothers led by Peter go on in, in spite of their miserable failures. They go to shore and feast with the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. What happened? What truth has to get hold of Elder Brothers to cause them to DIVE ON IN like Peter? Hint: Enough introspection, its time to DIVE IN!

Jesus didn’t want His disciples to spend too much time regretting or feeling sorry for their sins. In one touching moment the Lord Jesus let his disciples know that He is not about the Past but about the Future! Jesus wanted them to know He is Lord of the Future, and wanted them to focus on that. He knew they had gone back to their fishing because they were upset and disillusioned about His death. Even though Jesus had been upfront with them, they had responded like selfish Elder Brothers and gone back to what they knew best – fishing. But even that proved empty and fruitless.

The-Disciples-Big-CatchSo Jesus spoke, and their nets were filled. They came ashore, and Jesus prepared a feast for them. Then He focused on the biggest failure of an Elder Brother – Peter. But His words were to all Elder Brothers. He said, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter knew in that instance that his return to fishing meant he was putting it before his Lord. But rather than admit it in front of the others, he saidYes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “then feed my lambs”

jesus-peter-lovest-thou-me (2)

Now there was an obvious disconnect going on here. Jesus wanted to know if Peter “agape” loved him, and Peter insisted he “phileo” loved Jesus. The third time Jesus used “phileo” to meet Peter where he was at, and he pressed the point, “well, then, FOCUS ON THE FUTURE and feed my sheep!”

The Father knows where all Elder Brothers are at, and He still wants us to come in! He’s not about where we have been, He is all about where we are GOING! He’s about the REJOICING!

If Elder Brothers are going to go in, they can’t dwell on the past mistakes, they must focus on a growing love for the Father and taking care of HIS SHEEP! It is not about the fish, its about the sheep!

jesus to peter Focus on the futureSo as an Elder Brother, I’m diving in and going in to the feast because I realize I love my Father, and He wants me to feed His sheep, those younger brothers (and older) that know His voice! I realize it is not about what I want, but what the Father NEEDS, and that is sons who will care for His sheep! And the only reason I am emboldened to dive in is because the Father is ALL ABOUT THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST!

Do Elder Brothers need to dwell on their mistakes, mourn over all the younger brothers they have offended, grieve over all the hurts they have caused the Father?

No! What the Father wants is for us to turn away from our self and GO IN and REJOICE!

Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT): “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.”

REJOICE I AM FORGIVENI’m going in, and I am NOT going to sulk in the corner brooding over my failures and sin. The Father wants me to REJOICE. The Father wants ME! He desires a RELATIONSHIP with ME! I’m turning away from my self effort and selfishness, my pride and arrogance, my independence, and I’m going to fall at my Father’s feet and let Him kiss my neck! I’m going in and kiss my younger brother’s neck! I’m diving in to my Father’s AMAZING POWER, GRACE AND LOVE!

Jesus wants to be Lord of our PAST, but He can do it ONLY if we allow HIM to be LORD of our FUTURE!

The only sorrow any brother should have is that which leads us away from our mistakes and plants us FIRMLY IN THE ARMS OF OUR SAVIOR! This life is all about who has our heart!

Lovest thou ME? Then forget those things which are past and press toward the Father’s Heart!

Come on, it’s time to DIVE in (watch the video on YouTube):

There is a supernatural power In this might river’s flow
It can bring the dead to life
And it can fill an empty soul
And give a heart the only thing
Worth living and worth dying for, yeah
But we will never know the awesome power
Of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away
Into this holy flood
So if you’ll take my hand
We’ll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith
Come on let’s go

Elder Brother Dives InI’m diving in, I’m going deep in over
my head, I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow,
in over my head, I want to go
The river’s deep, the river’s wide,
the river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in

Father: I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes as an Elder Brother, and I now know you have forgiven me, and love me. But I’m taking your hand and I’m going in, heart first, sink or swim, I’m diving in!