Posts Tagged ‘Divine Love’


Wendy’s used an advertising campaign featuring three little old ladies standing at the “Home of the Big Bun” hamburger counter. Clara Peller lifts the big bun to see a tiny patty and yells out “where’s the beef?” The other ladies say: “It certainly is a big bun. It’s a very big bun. It’s a big fluffy bun. It’s a very big fluffy bun.”

Today we may be seeing a new ad with gringos holding a Taco Bell taco saying, “where’s the beef?”

An Alabama law firm is suing Taco Bell, saying that they are falsely advertising ‘beef’ products.

The meat mixture sold by Taco Bell restaurants contains binders and extenders and does not meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as “beef”, according to the legal complaint. Attorney Dee Miles said attorneys had Taco Bell’s “meat mixture” tested and found it contained less that 35 percent beef.[1]

The question I want to look at over the next few weeks involves our belief in Jesus Christ, and who we believe Him to be. The question we must ask ourselves is how much of the real Jesus do you have to have to be a true born again Christ follower. I believe that some Christians are following only 35% or 50% of the real Jesus.

In other words, I am hoping you will take an honest look at your life and see if you believe in the real Jesus Christ, and if so, does your life reflect the real Jesus? We are going to lift the bun on our lives and hopefully none of us is going to say, “Where’s the real Jesus?”

THE REAL JESUS WILL JUDGE US

  • And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10

While many of us believe we follow the real Jesus, the Scriptures say that many of us are being fooled. We are following a Jesus of our own making, taken from parts of the Real Jesus. The important question is does Jesus know me? Because if He does not, no matter how much good you do for Him, He will declare to you, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:23

It does not mean you violated God’s Law, it means you want your own way; you were living and serving for your benefit. You thought Jesus would be happy with what you did, but you did not understand the real Jesus. You never gave your life to the real Jesus. You never even saw the real Jesus, so it is no wonder that He did not know you.

Partial Obedience is a “No Go”

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:1-13

Jesus was pointing out that the proof of real worship is your obedience in your everyday lives. Anyone can go to church, anyone can be baptized, but to Jesus, the proof of your Christianity is the change in your heart that produces obedient living no matter the cost to our convenience.

The Pharisees obeyed God, but if they had to choose between obeying God and their convenience of profit, they would overrule the command of God with some fabricated tradition or false practice. The one example given regards the command to honor your father and mother.

With Jesus, words are not enough, and a show of obedience is not enough.

Look what Ezekiel experienced:

PUTTING ON A SHOW IS A “NO GO”

“As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain (besa)[2]. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. Ezekiel 33:30-32

‏בֶּצַע‎ (beṣaʿ)

  • To cut off what is not one’s own, or in the slang of our day, to take a “rip-off”, thus to be greedy, covetous.
  • Personal advantage derived from some activity. Used largely in the negative sense, as in the case of the racketeer who takes his “cut” from the profits of an otherwise legitimate business.

People want the show and the spiritual experience as long as it is entertaining and moving. But if it requires a change in the way they live their lives, no, that’s too extreme for me. Just as a con man plays people for a “rip-off” for personal gain, so do many ‘Christians’ slice and dice the Real Jesus down to someone they can tolerate in their personal lives. They do so for their personal gain.

Jesus asks us: “Who do you say that I am?” Mt 16:15

Peter Answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

Jesus responds: “On this rock I will build my church”.

Jesus indicates that who we believe  Jesus is will determine how solidly our church is built!

As a Pastor, the greatest error or sin I can commit is to preach a false salvation, a false or incomplete Jesus. I must preach Jesus Christ without compromise, without watering Him down, without mixing man’s ideas with who Jesus Christ really is!

I do not want anyone to be surprised when they meet Jesus. I want Him to know you, because you knew the real Jesus. You gave your heart to the Real Jesus.

With Jesus, there is no 35% and you are a Christian. There is no 50% and you are a Christian. There is no 85% and you are a Christian. Jesus told us what His standards of Christianity are in one of His last commands to us:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe[3] all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

We are to teach others to observe ALL that He commanded us! Observe is not a passive word, like a bystander. It involves 100% attention, it means to “keep your eyes fixed upon”. It draws the picture of a prison guard or warden who must constantly watch a vicious killer. If you take your eyes off him, he could escape and kill you.

We are to have that attitude not just toward the commands we like, or can gain from, or fit into our lifestyle. We are to observe ALL the commands of Christ as if our life depended upon it.

Paul and James made this clear:

  • Paul: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
  • James: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Who do you say that Jesus Is?

Are you like Ricky Bobby, praying to baby Jesus? Or are you like so many football fans, following Touchdown Jesus? You know the one, the one who gives you victory.

The fans of Notre Dame Football love their team. Win or Lose Notre Dame is followed by fans around the world. At one end zone, just above the stadium seats, you can catch a glimpse of Touchdown Jesus. He is atop a huge stain glass mural. His arms are raised as if to signal a touchdown. Before they added more seats at that end, he was clearly seen by the entire stadium.

That is the Jesus most of us worship. Upraised arms, stepping forth from the tomb, rising in the air, standing at the right hand of the Father, coming back in the air, riding on a white horse, ruling on the throne of David!

Touchdown Jesus! He’s a winner, He’s a conqueror! He’s the victor! He’s the ‘hero of the world’! He’s my hero! and he will make me a hero too!

This is where we start to fold in our ideas and our traditions with the Jesus Christ of God’s Word. Somehow, Jesus has become more about me than about a Sovereign God! We like the Touchdown Jesus because he is the winner, and we all want to be winners. We are taught that from our crib. We boast about when our baby started crawling, started walking, started talking, how smart they are, what grades they get, how well they play this sport, how well they excel at this activity. We want our kids to be winners! Therefore, we like Touchdown Jesus. He is a winner that fits nicely with our ideas of life in America.

Touchdown Jesus and the American Dream

Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player to play the sport. When he retired, the owner of the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf said, “He’s living the American Dream”. Someone defined the American Dream as “reaching a point in your life where you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and can do everything that you want to do”. James Truslow Adams defined it as “a dream… in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are”.

Consider whether YOU worship an “Americanized” Jesus

I believe that many American Christians have made Jesus Christ into a Jesus that fits nicely into our “Touchdown” mentality, our “American Dream” mentality. We are guilty of being like the Jews in Ezekiel’s days, turning God into someone we are comfortable with, as long as he is good for us, and fits in with our desires for success and wealth.

We like a nice middle-class American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and would never tell us to do something ridiculous like give away our wealth, or stop saving for retirement. We want a practical, realistic Jesus, one who understands the pressures of life, accepts nominal devotion, and is considerate of our need for creature comforts.

We want a balanced Jesus, a Jesus who wants us to avoid outrageous extremes, and who for that matter wants us to avoid danger altogether.

As David Platt (author of Radical) says, we want a “Jesus who brings comfort and prosperity to us as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream”. In an interview with the Christian Post, David Platt underscored the danger of following the American Dream:

“The American Dream begins with self. It exalts the self and says you are inherently good and you have in you what it takes to be successful” (David Platt)

The American dream is built on gaining, but Jesus said:

“Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39

The foundational commmand of a true follower of Jesus Christ is to ‘destroy’ your life.

Lose=  apollymi “To destroy, cause to perish”[4]

  • Jesus said you are not worthy of following HIM unless you are willing to take your cross and have your life destroyed (‘apollymi’ in Matthew 10:39).
  • You can live this life following the dream, gaining as much as you can, but you will wake up in the reality of eternal destruction.
  • Or you can be willing to take up your cross and have your ‘life’ destroyed in total abandon to Jesus and wake up in the reality and beauty of His presence.

“Believing in the Jesus in the Bible makes life risky on a lot of levels because it is absolute surrender of every decision we make, every dollar we spend, our lives belong to another,” he said. “It is relinquishing control in a culture that prioritizes control and doing what you need to do to advance yourself.” (David Platt)

The goal of the Christian American dream is to make much of us, to follow a Touchdown Jesus, a winner, who we can point to when we make our goal! However, the real Jesus has different priorities. Instead of encouraging our self-fulfillment, he confronts us with our inability to accomplish anything of value apart from God. He says if we want to be great, we must become a servant!

Instead of wanting us to be recognized by others, he commands us to die to ourselves and seek the glory of God above everything. The goal of the gospel of the real Jesus Christ is to make the MOST of God. And the LEAST of us!

I encourage you to read the book Radical. It will shake your Christianity to its core.

Who do you say that I am?

Peter gave the right answer, but denied Jesus Christ. He gave up on Jesus, and went fishing. You can know the right answer, but deny Jesus Christ in your life, because you honor Him with your lips, but not your heart and life.

The goal of this sermon series is to hold forth the real Jesus Christ, and to encourage each of us to observe all that He commands, without being watered down by our conveniences, our conceptions, our priorities. My prayer is that our lives, our goals, our walk, our priorities will be a clear reflection of the real Jesus Christ.

Where do we SEE the Real Jesus Christ?

The Bible School ‘skinny’ on the Gospels is that Matthew presents Messiah Jesus, Mark presents Servant Jesus, Luke presents King Jesus, John presents Divine Jesus. But there is one book we often overlook as representing the Gospel of the Real Jesus. It is the book of Revelation.

There we find two things: What was needed for John to see the real Jesus, and second, what happened when he saw the real Jesus.

  1. John was in the Spirit (10). He was under the influence and control of God’s Holy Spirit. Moreover, to see the real Jesus, we must be under control of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who reveals Jesus to us. That is His delight and Joy!
  2. When John saw the real Jesus, he fell at his feet as though dead (17). The Jesus that John saw was not the Jesus that John thought he knew, had touched, and had spoken to. When he saw the real Jesus, John was deeply affected. He was shaken to the core of his being. He was emotionally, physically and mentally overwhelmed to the point of swooning and passing out.

Was he overcome with a sense of failure, a sense of awe, a sense of fear, a sense of shortcomings in being like Him? Yes, all of these. Bottom line, however, when our heart and eyes are opened to see the real Jesus, we are knocked down from the platform of our comfortable life and laid out in the dust of our lives. It is just like Saul on the road to Damascus. He saw the real Jesus, and He fell to the ground. His life, his priorities, his goals were forever changed.

When we see the real Jesus, we will know it, and we will be changed. Our priorities will change. Our goals will change.

The Key to Understanding the Real Jesus

The key to understanding the Real Jesus of Revelations is to change our concept of Divine Love. The Book of Revelation is the final chapter in God’s Work in redeeming man. It is an account of the final settlement. That final settlement reveals the consummation of God’s Love for man. God’s love consummation begins and ends with His church. The church is in view in Revelation Chap 1:11 and 22:16

  • John reveals the key to understanding Jesus in Rev 1:5

Divine Love

And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6

Understand that the foundational motivation of Jesus Christ was divine love. That divine love moved the Son of God to do what He had to to free us from our sins. It cost Him His blood, His life, but in return, He made us a kingdom, He made us priests for His Father, and it brought Him Kingship and dominion.

As our King, and as priests in that Kingdom, we will be judged by the standards that He has set, and those standards are revealed in the vision of the True Jesus that John saw.

Quick Glimpse at the Real Jesus

“and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest”. Revelation 1:13. John saw the  SON OF MAN. “When John heard His voice, he immediately turned around and saw one like the Son of Man”.

The Real Jesus still held on to His humanity. John described as the Son of Man, a title that Jesus gave Himself. This meant that He really was one of us, exactly like us. As the Son of Man, He was our redeeming kinsman, who came into our lost estate. Jesus Christ became flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone to redeem us to His Father.

John Saw Gold about His chest

As we look and gaze upon the Real Jesus, the Jesus that John described, we will find that He is “clothed with a golden sash around his chest”. ASV: “girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle”. Revelation 1:13

Every word speaks of Divine love, the breasts, the gold, the girdle.

  • The girdle is the symbol of strength, of energy, of intention, of purpose. You mean business when you gird yourself. The robes are no longer flowing for leisure, loose for reclining.
  • The girdle is golden, symbolic of the very nature of God who is love.
  • The breasts or chest is the place of the Heart, the heart of Divine Love.

The Real Jesus is the sum total of God’s Divine Love!

The Real Jesus Has a Message for the Churches. That Message uses Divine Love as the standard. The Vision of the Real Jesus is to be revealed to the churches (write therefore the things you have seen)

Here is God’s standard:

  • We are called with this great calling — to be like the real Jesus. God’s desire is that we be brought into conformity with Him.
  • What is true in Him has to be true in each of us, and in the body, the church. “Girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle”. There is to be a heart devotion and faithfulness to the real Jesus Christ!

This is the real Jesus.

  • How can this be? What about the nice Jesus with the children, or the footprints in the sand that become one set while he carries me?
  • This Jesus in Revelations is frightening. John passed out  when he saw him. How can that be the effect of Divine love? After all, we’re supposed to dance when we see Jesus!
  • This is Lord all-terrible, not Lord all-loving!

We have to change our concept of Divine ‘agape’ love. The real Jesus is real Love, but He must have our devotion. He must have our heart. Have you ever been disciplined by the Lord, your life, your dreams shattered, your soul being poured out like water on the ground? Afterward did you say, “You were right Lord, you knew what had to be done. It was a terrible experience, but you are faithful and true”.

John says, “When I saw him I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not.”

This is not judgment, this is not destruction, and this is not death and condemnation. The right hand is the token of honour, of favour. “Fear not; I am the first and the last.” “Everything is in My hands and in the end it will be all right; I took it up and I am going to finish it; fear not”.

Paul’s Encounter with the Real Jesus

There was another man who, travelling on a road with hatred in his heart, and murder on his mind. He wanted to destroy Christianity, but instead his life, as he knew it was destroyed by the vision of the Real Jesus Christ.

Did Paul describe Him as All-terrible, frightening, scary? No, Paul said in Gal 2:20, “He loved me and He gave Himself for me!”  Far from a meeting with a terrible King, Paul met the lover of his soul.

We need an “Extreme Makeover” of our concept of Divine love.

It is not that sickly, sentimental thing we call love. It is not that I love you so much that anything you do is ok.

  • This divine love is something tremendous.

This Savior, this real Jesus, represents divine love that has our eternity in His heart. And that desire means He will deal with us faithfully for the betterment of that eternity.

God’s divine love has the end in view. His job is not to be a babysitter, trying anything to get the baby to stop crying.

Jesus Christ is our standard for eternity. If we set our eyes on the real Jesus, to be like Him, to live for Him, our eternity will be affected.

We are called into His eternal glory “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”, 2 Corinthians 4:17

The Real Jesus is Divine Love. But Divine Love is set on our eternity, not temporal comfort and riches that encompass the American Dream.

The Seven Churches Were Judged According to the Divine Love in Jesus Christ

Jesus message to the churches are on the basis of how they represent His character, His nature as seen in the vision of the Real Jesus.

The messages and the churches are bounded by Ephesus and Laodicea. In Ephesus and Laodicea, the trouble is defective love. Ephesus, “thou didst leave thy first love”; Laodicea, “thou art neither hot nor cold.” Each church had failed to measure up to the real Jesus Christ. Each church failed to measure up to His standard of Divine Love.

Jesus is the standard of judgment for the churches.

Do you love the real Jesus? Or do you love a Jesus that fits into your dreams and desires and with your own ideas of what is best for your life? If your love is defective like that of the churches in Revelation, so will your concept of the Real Jesus be defective.

The real Jesus is a picture of Divine Love. It is awesome, it is terrible, and it knocks you off your feet. It is not always loving in the sense we imagine. At times it is harsh. At times it seems cruel.

His divine love is the basis for how we will be judged. Do you know the real Jesus? Do you know what real Divine Love is? Has your life been transformed by the Real Jesus?

  • To the Ephesians Jesus says: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”.
  • To the Laodiceans Jesus says, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne”.

Our earthly love for Jesus will be the basis of our heavenly reward and duties. So yes, following the real Jesus is a struggle, it is a fight, it is a discipline, it requires a steadfast desire to conquer, against all odds, but the rewards will be worth it all!

As we study, see, and understand the Real Jesus Christ, I am praying that that we will understand true divine love, and how the real Jesus is the mark, the representation of how that love is to impact our lives.

I am praying further that once we see the real Jesus and what He expects of us, our very lives will be changed as we determine to be followers of the real Jesus Christ.

Adam & Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen is a well-known Catholic Priest who authored over 40 books. Even though a Catholic, his books The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, The Life of the Beloved and The Way of the Heart are classics. He was sought the world over as a gifted teacher and speaker. Yet the last 10 years of his life, he gave it all up to work in a home that took care of severely retarded and handicapped adults.

Nouwen has said that all his life two voices competed inside him. One encouraged him to succeed and achieve, while the other called him simply to rest in the comfort that he was “the beloved” of God. Only in the last decade of his life did he truly listen to that second voice.

“I left the university and went to France. After a year in France, I was called to become a priest at the Daybreak Community in Toronto which is a L’Arche Community (the word L’Arche means the Arc of Noah) a community of about a hundred people, fifty handicapped people and fifty assistants. L’Arche is a community of mentally handicapped people and their assistants who try to live in the spirit of the beatitudes. So I went to Toronto”[5].

The first thing they asked me was to work with Adam—of all names. I had to work with Adam! It sounded like working with humanity. Adam, a twenty-four-year-old man, was very, very, very handicapped. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t dress or undress himself. You never really knew if he knew you or not. His body was very deformed. His back was distorted and he suffered from continuous epileptic seizures.

It took him nearly two hours to prepare Adam each day. Bathing and shaving him, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, guiding his hand as he tried to eat breakfast-these simple, repetitive acts had become for him almost like an hour of meditation.

I must admit I had a fleeting doubt as to whether this was the best use of the busy priest’s time. Could not someone else take over the manual chores? When I cautiously broached the subject with Nouwen himself, he informed me that I had completely misinterpreted him. “I am not giving up anything,” he insisted. “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.”

He had learned what it must be like for God to love us-spiritually uncoordinated, retarded, able to respond with what must seem to God like inarticulate grunts and groans. Indeed, working with Adam had taught him the humility and “emptiness” achieved by desert monks only after much discipline.

He taught me that the heart is more important than the mind. … Adam didn’t think. Adam had a heart, a real human heart. I suddenly realized that what makes a human being human is the heart with which he can give and receive love. Adam was giving me an enormous amount of God’s love and I was giving Adam of my love. There was an intimacy that went far beyond words or far beyond activity. I suddenly realized that Adam was not just a disabled person, less human than me or other people. He was a fully human being, so fully human that God even chose him to become the instrument of His love. He was so vulnerable, so weak, so empty, that he became just heart, the heart where God wanted to dwell, where He wanted to stay and where He wanted to speak to those who came close to His vulnerable heart.

Adam was a full human being, not half human or less human. I discovered that … God loves Adam very specially. He wanted to dwell in his broken person so that He could speak from that vulnerability into the world of strength, and call people to become vulnerable[6].

“Every time I told [Adam’s story] I could see new life and new hope emerging in the hearts of my listening friends. My grief became their joy, my loss was their gain, and my dying their coming to new life. Very slowly I started to see Adam coming alive in the hearts of those who had never known him, as if they were being made part of a great mystery. . . . Is this when is resurrection began, in the midst of my grief? That is what happened to the mourning Mary of Magdala . . . for the disciples on the road to Emmaus . . . for the disciples in the upper room . . . for the grieving friends of Jesus who went back to fishing in the lake. . . . Mourning turns to dancing, grief turns to joy, despair turns to hope, and fear turns to love. Then hesitantly someone is saying, ‘He is risen, he is risen indeed.” (pp. 119-120)


[2] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “267: ‏בָּצַע‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 122.

[3] tēréō; contracted tēró, fut. tērésō, from tērós (n.f.), a warden, guard. To keep an eye on, watch, and hence to guard, keep, obey,

Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 230.

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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!

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