Marriage 911 - Become a God pleaser!
Christi and Mandee will be in concert tonight at 7:00PM in the Arena. I encourage you to come. Christi has been married for 3 years and no matter how many years you’ve been married or even if you are single, I would love your thoughts on this simple, little question. How would you describe marriage? I agree, it’s little but not simple! How would YOU describe marriage? Hopefully good words are beginning to pour into your mind! Words like, “Marriage doubles your joy and divides your sorrows!” Unlike… “Marriage is allot like a hot bath; after awhile it’s not so hot!” I went searching for some answers and here’s what a few said[i]: Marriage is…“Hard work, fun, hard work, an adventure” “A financial contract which transfers assets from one spouse to another.” “Having a permanent best friend” “A disaster played out in slow motion.” “Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.”[ii] “There is no such cozy combination as man and wife.”[iii] If you were to ask the Apostle Paul to describe marriage. He’d say, “Marriage is the runner up to being single!” Turn in your Bibles today to 1st Corinthians 7! Do you need a Bible today? Today we conclude our Marriage 911 series only to be followed up with a series on parenting – called: Purpose Driven Parenting. Mark Stier will begin that five week series starting next week. We’ve made you invite cards to encourage you to invite your friends. Come and take as many cards as you want following the service. Last week the Apostle Paul helped us see four marriage benefits: they are – physical pleasure, companionship, parental stability and the perfect location (boot camp) for life transformation! If you wonder in the least whether or not you are becoming more like God’s son – just ask someone in your family! After Paul gives us four benefits of marriage he now gives us ONE HUGE benefit in staying single. Turn to 1st Corinthians 7:28 – here’s one my all time favorite marriage verses! Is Paul the one who said, “The three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering?”[iv] No, Paul did not say that! Actually the author is unknown. Probably a wise move on his part! But the truth is – marriage is hard! Drop down to verse 32a. What kind of concern? Let’s keep reading - 32b-35. What is the ONE HUGE benefit in being single? (Look at verse 35 again!)
“Undivided devotion to the Lord!” And that isn’t the only time Paul says this. Look at verse 38 – and now verse 40! And truthfully – you can’t argue with his conclusion! If you are single you have the freedom to serve God without concern! If you want to go on a mission trip – GO! If you want to move to a location that might not be suitable for a spouse – GO! Very little prevents you from serving God with undivided devotion! It makes such sense for Paul to end this 7th chapter the way that he started the 7th chapter. Go back to verse 1!
“It is good for a man not to marry.” Paul directly tells us that being single is better than being married. But as he does this – he indirectly gives us facts on how to have a good marriage! He does it again in verses 33 and 34. (Read) If your marriage is in need of a 911 call – maybe it’s because you’ve stopped trying to please each other! Would you honestly take a moment and sift through your thoughts? Please HER? Please HIM? Truth is – with all that’s piled on my plate – my spouse gets the leftovers! And if your spouse does get your leftovers – your marriage is or will be not so good! A comedian once said, “The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.” It doesn’t have to be that way! I dare you – I triple dog dare you! Ask your spouse two questions! Do I bless you followed up with how can I please you? But I’m radically curious? Do you already know? Husbands, finish this statement. This pleases my wife… Back rubs, watching the kids, letting her sleep in, sending her a card – being a good Dad, total open and honest communication! You can confidently say, “I know all of the above pleases my wife!” WIVES, what pleases your husband? Back rubs? Maybe! Watching the kids – most likely you do that anyway! Sending him a card? If ten’s the highest – that would be a 4. SEX! – Now you’re talkin! Hey, God created men to be physical and visual. He created women to be emotional and nurturing. What do you think gets in the way of pleasing your spouse? I KNOW! I DO! WE DO! We get in the way. So how can we prevent this? Paul has the answer! Become a God pleaser in this life! Go back to verse 35. There is no doubt that a single man or woman has more time to devote to God in serving his purposes! But marriage is not an excuse to give God anything less than your best! If it is, Paul would be contradicting Jesus’ words in Luke 14:25. Turn now to Luke’s Gospel. Find Luke 14:25. It appears that here and in John 6 that Jesus is beginning to systematically thin out the crowds. Look at what he says in verses 25-27! That ought to do the trick! Jesus is SO not a politician. Politicians love to make speeches with lots of promises. This is what I’ll give you. Jesus actually promises the opposite. “If you won’t give up everything, you cannot be my disciple.” It gets worse, go back to verse 26.
Did Jesus use the word hate? YES, he did! That must be an NIV typo, right. Let’s check the NAS: "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate… What about the King James? “If any man come to me, and hate not his father…”
A little Internet survey came out awhile ago listing some of the world’s most hated foods. Do any of these “foul foods” make you want to gag: Tofu, cottage cheese, chitterlings, cooked carrots, peas, oysters, beets, mayonnaise, liver and the #1 hated food? SPAM![v] I can use the word “hate” when it comes to food or the Pittsburgh Steelers or mosquitoes. But not to people. What is Jesus saying here? GOD CANNOT COME IN SECOND PLACE! Your marriage will become so much better if you choose to become a God pleaser in this life! I was reading the Life Application Bible Notes in 1st Corinthians 7 and saw four problems listed that marriage cannot solve. #1: Loneliness. You can be married and still be lonely. Proverbs 30:21 & 23 says, “Under three things the earth trembles… one of the three is,  an unloved woman who is married… #2: Sexual Temptation. You can have a healthy sexual relationship and still experience temptation. “New York Times editorialist Maureen Dowd offered her take on Anthony Weiner's "Tweetin' ain't cheatin'" defense: "Are men, losing interest in having sex because they're so obsessed with porn, sexting and virtual partners?” [vi] A wife alone is not enough to change a man’s perspective about sex. But God can! The Internet has forever changed the landscape of sexual fulfillment. Don’t let that temptation destroy your life! Problem #3: Your deepest emotional needs. Wives, only a God can “complete” you because he made you! There are no knights in shining armor masquerading as husbands. Only God knows the deepest needs of your heart. #4: Elimination of Life’s Difficulties. When you get married you don’t enter the “I no longer have problems zone!” Marriage is hard. Life is hard. Being a Christian is hard. So hard, you can’t do it well without making God your highest priority! Jesus did this. He set the standard high. When Jesus said “hate” he created a comparison! Your love for God will be so strong it will look like you hate your wife or your husband.
Here’s what I have found to be true! My love for God has only increased my love for my wife, my daughter and my son! Now what makes that much easier is that my wife loves God too. She isn’t out doing something stupid. I’m not out doing something selfish! We both want to be God pleasers in this life! NOW – besides not doing something stupid or selfish - WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A GOD PLEASER? Find Luke 14:27. To be a God pleaser MEANS you willingly choose to carry a cross. I bet the people listening to him that day literally gasped. Jesus said some of the most offensive things. Last Palm Sunday I gave out some 1500 Palm Branch crosses. Aren’t they nice? Truth is the cross isn’t nice. As soon as Jesus said the word stauros /stow·ros – cross – people immediately would have thought about their hate for the Romans. The cross is not nice. I should given you miniature execution chairs or guillotines instead. The cross is nothing but an instrument of death and Jesus wants us to willingly pick one up! Paul said it this way in Galatians 2: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 5: And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. What Jesus did on the cross set us free from sin! On Monday we will celebrate yet another Independence Day – let’s not forget why we celebrate! (Freedom clip) God doesn’t give any person/married couple a plan as much as a purpose – our purpose is simple – live for HIM! PLEASE HIM! Are you? Billboards like this are popping up all over Central Ohio. Don’t get nervous or irritated about this. Let them serve as reminders of what you truly believe. But remember, it’s not just what we believe – it’s how we live. Jesus said, die to yourself and live for me! That decision will not only bring you freedom and life – it could revolutionize your marriage!