Marriage 411 - Take God at his word!
Let me preface this message by saying today is not over. This entire day is Valentine’s Day so if you haven’t found a card or given a gift for that special someone – you still have time. Not much time, but you do have time. Gentlemen, when it comes to giving a card to your wife, which guy reminds you of you? (2010 Love Words VC) A card is important. The words you write in the card are even more important. I so get the words, “I married out of my league.” I did. One of the biggest reasons I love my wife is because she just tells me like it is. Last week I spoke about Isaac as we concluded our “Faith Heroes” series. Isaac blessed his two sons in regards to their future even though their lives did not turn out like he thought they should! I felt compelled after worship last week to ask my wife Tricia, “Tricia, do I bless you?” And her answer was classic. She thought for just a few seconds and then said, “MOST DAYS!” Most days I do bless her and most days she blesses me. Would that be a fair assessment of your marriage? Today we’re going to begin a seven week series called Marriage 411. If you dial 411 on your cell phone who will you get? Basically an information expert! And that’s my prayer for this series. The Bible has information in regards to marriage. Those words came to us from God through Moses, Solomon, Jesus and Paul. Now a good friend of mine saw this logo which IS on our website, newsletter AND appears in my emails and wrote back to me saying, You should call this series Marriage 911! One number does make all the difference. Maybe that’s exactly what you need to do today – make a call for help. Your marriage is in trouble. You are in a relationship emergency. Take this husband as an example…He asked his wife, “Where do you want to go for our anniversary?” And she answered. “Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!” So he suggested, “How about the kitchen?” And that's when the fight started...
If you find yourself fighting and arguing with your spouse would you commit yourself to what the word of God has to say about marriage! If you’re bored – do the same. If you’re newly married, forever married, never married or remarried would you for the next seven weeks drink in God’s word, his commands, his “do’s and don’ts” about what it means to be married and let’s see what happens.
Have you ever been sitting on the couch with your computer on your lap and suddenly a question pops in your brain? Maybe you need directions or want to know the closest Chinese restaurant or are just wondering, “Who won the Super Bowl last Sunday?” Oh, the Saints – that’s right. Did you know that one of the most popular questions people ask on any search engine is “What time is it?” To me that seems like a big waste of time. (NPI) Considering most computers have a small clock located in the top or bottom right hand corner available for continual viewing. Here’s a better question to Google! What does the Bible say about marriage? You will be directed to a slew of websites. One being www.gotquestions.org[i]. Using this resource coupled with several other resources allow me to give you a brief summary of what the Bible says about marriage. This is not exhaustive, but it will get the ball rolling.[ii] Moses said in Genesis that marriage was God’s idea. It was also God’s idea to make two genders – one male and one female. These two genders play different roles, but can achieve the same goal - that of being one. Moses makes it clear that commitment is essential if any married couple wants to continually experience oneness. Solomon said in his Song of Songs that romance has a place in marriage. That romance can lead to sexual expression. And did you know the Bible does not encourage “making love.” The Bible encourages expressing love and sex is one way, but certainly not the only way of expressing love for your spouse. Jeremiah said that marriage can hold times of great joy. Malachi said that marriage creates the best environment for raising kids. Jesus said that marriage is for keeps. However, unfaithfulness breaks the bond of trust which is foundational if you want your marriage to thrive. Listen to this statement, “Real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.” I totally get the imperfect person part, but an unconditional commitment. That’s not what Jesus said. You can’t go running around on your spouse. And if your spouse will not stop cheating or being unfaithful - you can get a divorce. Now please hear me out – before you go through that huge step of divorce – first go through thousands of tiny steps to prevent divorce. And one of those steps is forgiveness. God will often do a miracle in marriage if both spouses would choose to forgive! Forgiveness is a gift. Speaking of gifts - I come bearing gifts today. But I can’t throw this gift because I might hurt someone. Instead I will give this chocolate kiss to the person who answers one question correctly. Who do you think spoke about marriage more – Jesus or the Apostle Paul? The answer is Paul. Paul speaks about marriage in Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1st Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews. Let’s focus our attention on one of those letters – Ephesians. Do you need a Bible? I want you to locate Paul’s letter to the Ephesians! (Scripture Reading Chart) Ephesians is one of four prison letters. The date is approximately AD 60[iii]-62[iv]. Paul is in Rome. Paul will go to prison twice. This time he gets out. The 2nd time he will die. Right now he is “freely confined.” Inotherwords, he can only go as far as the house he lives in. Paul can meet with people. Visitors come and go. He sees Roman soldiers every day. With this as the backdrop he writes a letter to people in and around a city known as Ephesus. Now why? Why does he write this six chapter letter? In the little book, Know Your Bible, the purpose of this letter is to remind “Christians that we are all members of Jesus’ body the church!”[v] What Paul does in Ephesians is “explain the nature and purpose of the church”[vi] – which is not a building but a body! Lay your Bible flat out in front of you. How many chapters are in Ephesians? Six. The 1st three celebrate the blessings we experience in this world because we know Jesus. I think sometimes we forget that. I know that because I’m speaking about myself. Find Ephesians 1:3. Do you like conversation hearts? I’ve had a candy dish in my office full of conversation hearts. Let me read you a few. “You rule. Awesome. E-mail me. No way! Got Love? Just one? UR Mine!” That’s exactly what God has said to us through Jesus. You are mine. Through Jesus I’ve blessed you, chosen you, predestined you, adopted you, accepted, redeemed, forgiven and sealed[vii] you. In Jesus we often do not know what we have. In a word – we are BLESSED. Let me show you how blessed. Find chapter 2:1. Drop down to verse 4. What is grace? Plain and simple – it’s an indescribable gift. Despite our many, many sins – he forgives us. Go to chapter 3. Find verse 16-17. A love so powerful, it hung Jesus on the cross. Chapters 1-3 show us what it means personally to be saved. What is means to be called a Christian? What it means to be part of the body of Christ. But you can’t stop there. Chapters 4 through 6 are all about demonstration. Being a Christian is more than just going to church. It’s being one in the body of Christ and living as children who’ve seen the light, namely Jesus. Practically speaking if you love Jesus then people should see it and I can think of no better people than your spouse and kids. Go to chapter 5 and find verse 22. I won’t do it. Then wives, you have not really grasped what Jesus did for you. Now verse 25. I’m not going to do that either. Then husbands, you also have lost touch on what Jesus did for you. Ephesians 5 is true Marriage 411. What two words did you say on your wedding day? “I do!” For the next six weeks we’ll look at three do’s for husbands and three do’s for wives. And here’s my promise. If you do what the Bible says, your marriage will be different. Because what is faith? Faith is taking God at his word. Take God at his word when it comes to marriage.
John Ortberg has a new book out called The Me I want to be and in his book he asks an incredible question. Who in the Bible would you say had the best marriage? He gives a few examples. Adam and Eve started off good, but after sin entered the world their honeymoon in paradise went down the tubes. Maybe some of our Faith Heroes would qualify? Abraham lied that Sarah was his sister – twice – and had other children through her servant Hagar. Isaac and Rebekah spent most of their marriage battling because Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. David was a man after God’s own heart but he was terrible husband. Solomon, the wisest man in the world was worse. Now Ortberg didn’t say this to discourage but to encourage.
We love to put people on pedestals. I could stand up here and say “I have the best marriage in the world?” But go ask my wife and she’ll tell you we don’t have the best marriage in the world. Ortberg said, “In fairy tales, life is a difficult adventure until you get married and then you live happily ever after. But nowhere in the Bible does a couple get married and then live “happily ever after. Marriage doesn’t save anyone. Only Jesus does that.”[viii] We were out somewhere – Tricia, Jeanna, Sam and myself. I came up behind Tricia and pinched her. I bet you know where. My kids saw that and said, “Dad pinched Mom’s butt.” I did. I love being married. It comes with lots of privileges. But the truth is marriage is so hard. If your marriage is driven by your feelings – you will struggle. But if it is driven by your faith. You’ll be alright. Ortberg said, “In the Bible, marriage is not the fulfillment of our dreams; it is a place where we learn.”[ix] And what lesson do we learn the most – how to be like Jesus!
[ii] Wordsearch, Life Application Bible, Marriage
[iii] H. Wayne House, Background Charts, 16-17
[iv] Know Your Bible, 76
[v] Know Your Bible, 76
[vi] NIV LAB Study Notes, Vital Statistics, 2525
[vii] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1683
[viii] John Ortberg, The me I want to be, 199
[ix] John Ortberg, The me I want to be, 200