Marriage 911 - Make the call to God!
Beware of Satan’s Temptations
I can’t thank you enough for praying for me. It was good to go and great to come backJ I can’t possibly relive the entire trip, so I asked Lorien to prepare a snapshot entitled, "So How Was Your Trip?" Well, I...Climbed the path to the Cliffs of Arbel - as we looked out over Galilee and our guide said, “To your left is Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. Jesus would have walked from Nazareth through this valley and into Galilee.” Here is where he spent the majority of his time accomplishing ministry. To your right is the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stayed on the northern section of the Sea of Galilee. If you look straight ahead you’ll see Capernaum – the home of Peter and Andrew and there is the probable location of the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus said many things like, “Blessed are the pure in heart… You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When you give, when you pray, when you fast. Build your house on the rock!” I saw a panoramic view of Mt. Carmel, Mt. Gilboa and Mt. Tabor! Our guide said, “Here is Mt. Carmel, where Elijah called down fire from heaven, there is Mt. Gilboa where King Saul committed suicide instead of falling into the hands of the Philistines and there is Mt. Tabor where Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John! After our week in Galilee we spent a week in Jerusalem. On June 2 we crossed the West Bank into Bethlehem and saw the Judean wilderness where the angels astounded the shepherds. We also found a place that served coffee. (STARS BUCKS IMAGE)
Truly my mind is about to pop and I don’t want to spew Holy Land 411 all over you so I’ll make you this promise. As the scripture speaks, I’ll share with you what I experienced. That will begin today! How many here have ever called 911? You had a good reason, right? Medical emergency – serious accident! Many people call 911 for non-emergency related issues.[i] Like a woman in Aloha, Oregon who called 911 because she thought the deputy who had just visited her was cute. The dispatcher sent that “cute” deputy back to her house where he promptly arrested her. A Florida woman called 911 because she locked herself inside her own car. Nothing electronically would work so the dispatcher suggested she flip the lock manually. Another Florida woman called 911 because McDonald’s ran out of McNuggets. A lack of nuggets does not warrant a McEmergency, but having trouble with Math apparently does! Here’s compassion for you. A little 4 year old boy called 911 because he couldn’t solve a math problem. The dispatcher actually helped him! That’s the exception - 911 is for emergencies only. Someone needs help right now! Today we begin a new four week series called Marriage 911 all based on 1st Corinthians 7! Turn in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 7. Do you need a copy of God’s word today? Just raise your hand? Now 1st Corinthians 7 is a diverse chapter. Paul speaks to a wide variety of people – single folks – either by choice or by circumstance. Those who have chosen to be celibate. People who have never married or had been married but now are divorced or widowed. He also speaks to those who are married or who are thinking of getting married. NOW RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT - all of us must make a decision! You might be tempted to think, this series isn’t for me! I’m not married. I was married but not anymore. Please know – this series is for all of us because this series is about relationships. You cannot exist well in this world without having good relationships.
Paul went to Corinth in Greece during his 2nd missionary journey. He writes to these folks during his third missionary journey while living in Ephesus. 1st Corinthians 5:9 tells us that letter did not survive. Acts 19 shows us that Paul sends both Timothy and Erastus into southern Greece to check on the Corinthians. This church is not doing well. They are divided, sinning and filled with questions – six in particular – one question centers on marriage. Look at verse 1 of 1st Corinthians 7. Note the footnote. RATS! Is God some kind of killjoy? This is woefully frustrating. God makes the male body to compliment the female body and the female body to compliment the male body! We have the equipment, but there’s this giant DO NOT TOUCH sign wrapped around our necks. Geez, God. Thanks for giving me this body but forbidding me to use it! The Message translation asks this question in verse 1: Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? The answer is YES! But not with just anyone! That’s what men in particular were doing in Corinth! Corinth made Vegas look like Mayberry or Sunbury! Men were having sex with everyone – anyone. Their gods and goddesses were even demanding that they have sex as an expression of worship. Paul says NO! Find verse 2! Why have US Rep. Anthony Weiner, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger been in the news recently? Each has been accused of sexual misconduct! That’s rare isn’t it? Absolutely not. Is it good to have sex? Yes, but not with just anyone! Only with your spouse! Drop down to verse 5. I’m curious? Does Satan tempt you? Tempt means “an attempt! An enticement to sin!”[ii] What temptations does Satan place before married couples? I was at a minister’s meeting last November and Greg Nettle asked, “Which of these temptations are you struggling with right now?” Here’s the list: Pride, Abuse of Power, Self-pity, Emotional Affair, Resentment, Burn-out, Bad Marriage, Physical Affair, Gluttony, Bad Spending Habits, Addictive Behavior, Pornography, Bad Dad, Cold heart towards God, Cold heart towards people, Anger, Financial Misappropriation, and Divorce. The top two temptations that day were Pride & Pornography! I don’t know what your top two temptations are, but in verses 2-5 of 1st Corinthians 7 Paul unpacks one massive temptation all married couples face: Selfishness – the temptation to be selfish! Look at verses 2-5. (Message-READ)
“Greg, you’ve got it all wrong. Paul is talking about sex, not selfishness. No, look closely he’s talking about selfishness and using sex as an example.” I will never forget going to the Wailing Wall a week ago Friday at the start of Sabbath in Jerusalem. There are two separate sections. One for men. One for women. Men cannot approach the wall without a kippa or yarmulke to cover their head. I was given a head covering and went to the wall and prayed. I started to walk away and saw this Rabbi teaching his disciples. I stood and listened and the Rabbi said this, “We follow the Jewish way. We are not Protestants who follow the way of me, myself and I. Those who are selfish. We follow the Torah – the laws of God.” I want you to know I was a little put off by that Rabbi, but then I started thinking, “Am I selfish? Do I only think about me, myself and I?” If you are married and you are sexually selfish, your marriage is not as good as it could be! What reasons could there be for married couples who do not have sex? I am so tired! The kids have me just worn out! I’m just not interested anymore. I’m ashamed of my body. I’m always out of town on business OR I’m just mad at you! What made them mad? I can see why this husband is in hot water. He said, “Last March my son celebrated his 15th birthday so I bought him an iPhone. I celebrated my birthday in July and my wife bought me an iPad. My daughter's birthday was in August so I got her an iPod Touch. September came, so for my wife's birthday, I bought her an iRon.”
Isn’t that funny? Not to her it isn’t. There’s a book out called Counseling Couples in Conflict. The authors, James Sells and Mark Yarhouse, reminded me that marriage is not about me and it’s not about you. Marriage is about US.[iii] The Bible describes it as “one flesh.” One flesh equals intimacy and there has to be intimacy if a marriage is considered healthy! What creates intimacy for a woman? Sex does, but you must emotionally connect with her first. Irons don’t do that! Have you asked your wife lately – “Honey, what can I say, what can I do emotionally to connect with you?” Based on your wife’s personality it may be as simple as emptying the dishwater OR watching the kids OR sending her a card OR giving her a kiss. A kiss with no strings attached. No expectations of anything more! How can a wife connect with her husband? Sex is good, but when my wife says to me, “Greg, you are a good man!” Most men thrive on affirmation. Wives, when was the last time you pointed out something good your husband did? Told him he was a good man! Most marriage problems happen because one of both spouses become selfish! We stop thinking WE and start thinking ME! SIN is when we take our eyes off of God and fix them on ourselves. On my pilgrimage I had the privilege of taking communion nearly every night with 20 other men! Before taking communion, we would pray a prayer like this, Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen
I want us all to pray this prayer. But before we do – ask God to reveal every selfish tendency in your life and marriage! Now let’s pray this prayer as we remember the body and blood of Jesus! (Communion)
This series is called Marriage 911 because many marriages are just not good. They are on the brink of separation – maybe even divorce. Call out to God – plus call out to these marriage counselors listed in your newsletter. Call them and ask for help.
The first day of my trip I was given this cross. It’s called the Jerusalem cross. It has one large cross encircled by four small crosses. The large cross represents Jesus – the four small crosses represent the four gospels which tell us the story of Jesus. I was invited to walk with Jesus. And how did Jesus live? He served. He loved. He forgave. Just think what might happen in your marriage even today if you would serve, love and forgive your spouse? Come and call out to God on behalf of your marriage!
[i] 10 Dumbest 911 Calls, Strange Stories, Gracie Murano
[ii] Logos Bible Software, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Tempt, 1 Corinthians 7:5
[iii] Sells & Yarhouse, Counseling Couples in Conflict, 45