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Fresh Fruit of faithfulness Sermonl, part 8

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Edit October 15, 2006                          Oct 21/22nd -
The Fresh Fruit of Faithfulness in Marriage, part 8
Baptism weekend…
Who are you getting marital advice from?
Those who have failing relationships.

Wonder what kind of advice they’ll give you?

Can a person be trusted?  Yes.

Can a person breach your trust of them?  Yes.

Does God have anything to say about human trust?  Yes.


Are you ready to hear it?  Yes.

Let’s pray.

OPENING LINE…
“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FAITHFUL?”

I know there are a lot of directions we can go today in this TOPIC of faithfulness.

God has led me today to focus on FAITHFULNESS IN MARRIAGE,
because the enemy is attacking marriages, even marriages of believers.

ILLUSTRATION:

Hallmark has a card that fits the mood of our time by saying, "I can’t promise you forever, but I can promise you today."

That’s about as deep a commitment as many are willing to make.

Q:  How HIGH is your expectation in marriage?

Do you want your marriage to be whole?
Wholeness means that your marriage is healthy or on it’s way to health.

And it is in the will of God for you to enjoy health in

mind, body, and spirit, as well as healthy relationships.

Millions of germs inhabit our environment.

One scientist estimates there are 500 million organisms in just a teaspoon of garden soil,
and that a half teaspoon of saliva harbors one billion microorganisms (Folkenberg & McAdams, 1992, p. 39).

While some of these germs and bacteria are harmful, most are harmless.

Hey, as soon as the pastor said “you may kiss the bride”, your relationship started sharing germs….  OOOOOOO Gross pastor!

Those are GOOD GERMS right?

But there are BAD GERMS that want to destroy your marriage.

Unless we carefully guard and maintain our marriages, TERMINAL ILLNESS in our relationships may result.

WHEN YOUR SICK, THE DOCTOR TAKES A “THROAT CULTURE” to see what germs you have in your body.

TODAY, WE ARE GOING TO TAKE A “TRUST CULTURE”, because the word ‘FAITHFULNESS’ in Gal. 5:23, is talking being a person who is TRUSTWORTHY.

As you know we are live out the Holy Spirit’s fruit of faithfulness (add pee-tas here possibly)–


How healthy is your relational TRUST IMMUNE SYSTEM?

Are we effectively Protecting each other…?


The virus of sin holds thousands of varieties of germs,
and MARRIAGE, the closest family relationship, is the most vulnerable to relational germs, disease, and even death.

TODAY SERVES AS A SELF-EXAMINATION in your marriage.

If you are single, please relate what I’m saying to other relationships in your life, and also, pray for those who are married as we relate THE FRUIT OF FAITHFULNESS TO MARRIAGE TODAY.

SATAN WANTS TO DESTROY YOUR MARRIAGE.

He hates you and he wants you to hate each other.

Healthy Christian marriages are a threat to the enemy, and he will do whatever he can to destroy them.

In effect, he’s been pretty successful lately.

Are you going to allow your marriage to be a statistic Satan celebrates, or are you going to fight back?

Healthy marriages glorify God.

Unhealthy marriages stay in conflict, which minimizes the glory of God that we give him.

THERE IS SOMETHING WE CAN DO TO PROTECT OUR MARRIAGES….

 
Whether your relationship has the VIRUS of MISTRUST, or whether you simply need PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE, every one needs RELATIONAL HEALTHCARE

LET’S GO OVER THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT OF FAITHFULNESS, AND THEN I’LL SHARE SOME TIPS ON KEEPING YOUR MARRIAGE “DISEASE FREE”,
BUILDING BACK UP YOUR MARITAL IMMUNE SYSTEM.

The focus of this message is YOU becoming a better YOU in Christ, rather than your focus being on HOPING your spouse will TRUST you again.  Make sense?  (repeat)

1.  Test your Personal Trust Immune System.

Are you trustworthy?

Focus on BEING trustworthy, instead of demanding others to trust you.

Greek - define word meaning of “faithful” Pistis -  pis'-tis 
Pistis

Pees-tas – Faithfulness is conviction of the truth of anything – belief.

Trust born out of faith or trust in God.

And that faith in God, will change or transform your character.

Example:  If you have not been a person who is trustworthy, the FRUIT OF FAITH from the Holy Spirit, is His FRUIT of Trust being produced regularly through YOU.

We must desire to ALLOW God to appropriate this trust to us.

Romans 3:28,  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

This word “faith”, which is what is needed in order to accept Christ, “PEESTAS” is the same word for “faith” as in trust, in marital fidelity, “being faithful” in marriage. Add the word “fiath” in god is the same word (pee-tas) as this word for “trust” in gal. 5:22

Point:  The reason why marriage unfaithfulness hurts so deeply is that this breach of TRUST, is the same TRUST that we must have in order to accept Christ.

Christ won’t REJECT you – HE is and will always be TRUSTWORTHY.

Our salvation depends on Christ being Trustworthy.

2 Tim. 2:11-15-  “11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful,

for he cannot disown himself.” 14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

The word “Faithful” in Gal 5:23 means “trustworthy”.

Trust that is born out of faith in God.

Trust is the character of one who can be relied on


However, in relationship to our marriages, they (marriage) also depends on trustworthiness in order to maintain health.

That’s why when trust has been breached in a relationship, I encourage the one who has been offended, to work toward “trusting” again, but VERIFY.


Trust others, but verify, if needed (find quote – a military quote)

Blindly trusting others is not what God expects because choosing to be trustworthy is still a choice.

vs. 15 – he is saying to be trustworthy, as one approved, a workman who need not be ashamed.

Even in this context, he is saying, making yourself a person who can be trusted, instead of your focus on “demanding to be trusted”.

-------
Illustration – 4 brothers married 50 years

In Visalia, CA there was headlines news that said,
“Marriage Lasts a Lifetime for Four Hansen Brothers.”

Four brides for four brothers the four Hansen brothers and their wives celebrated a remarkable milestone.

They’ve all been married more than 50 years. Couples married for 50 years are becoming a rarity.

Finding members of the same family who have been married that long is unheard of.

Tulare County brothers Arnold, Leonard, Raymond and Harold Hansen between the four of them, have been married to their wives for 221 years!

When asked the secret of the Hansen brothers’ long marriages, Leonard said, ‘We’ve all had our ups and downs. But divorce was never an option.
Murder maybe, but not divorce.

‘I go outside when we have an argument, that’s why I have such a good tan,’ Harold said with a smile.

Harold attributes the length of their marriages to the fact that the fact that there “Christian people.”
However, also quips, but in my opinion. ‘We’re so good to our wives, they wouldn’t leave us for anything.’

There is something really wonderful about FAITHFULNESS  in marriage.

No doubt, the Hanson couples have had there problems, but they stayed together.

I want to learn from them, what about you?

Are you trustworthy?

Or do you come up with excuses on how you spouse has messed up?

2.     A trust virus needs your attention  
(i.e.  when you’ve breached someone’s trust of you it’s your job to regain their trust, not their job to trust you faster.)

Marital infidelity is not only area of marriage where trust can be broken.

Emotional protection.  (elaborate)

Slamming your spouse in front of others (elaborate)

Boundaries (elaborate)

We’ll unpack these later, but the point is that purity is not just related to sex in marriage.

Great news -

Christ focuses so MUCH on relationships in scripture, that we can literally know GOD’s perspective on RELATIONAL FAITHFULNESS.

Like in every other aspect of the FRUIT of the SPIRIT, “faithfulness is ALSO the Holy Spirit’s FRUIT” that is produced through us.

Don’t feel trapped.

Don’t feel as if you don’t have what it takes to be TRUSTWORTHY.

It is the FRUIT of the Holy Spirit.

We have to figure out how to let this part of the fruit flow through us into our marriage relationships.


Remember: 
If you agree with my assessment that each one of these parts of the fruit, build one of top of each other, Faithfulness (trustworthiness), takes LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS in order to achieve a heart that can be trusted.

Each builds on the other.

Steps in how to be trustworthy again:
“The degree of our faithfulness is a direct result of our regard for God’s faithfulness.”  (Beth Moore)

(passages on being a person of trust)

Don’t shoot for trust that will just get you by, but shoot for trust that is abundantly more than it expected.

Exodus 34:1-6.- 34     The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”

4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (or NAS states the word “truth”)

Hebrew word for truth (Ex. 34:6)- 'emeth

  1. firmness, faithfulness, truth
    1. sureness, reliability
    2. stability, continuance
    3. faithfulness, reliableness
    4. truth
      1. as spoken
      2. of testimony and judgment
      3. of divine instruction
      4. truth as a body of ethical or religious knowledge
      5. true doctrine adv
  2. in truth, truly

Purpose of this passage is look at the model god has set for us, which is not a “get by” level of trust, but exceeding trust – quantity and quality.

Abounding in Hebrew is “rab”, and it means abundant, exceeding full, great, and refers to both quantity of trust, and quality of trust, and God does not apply his “faithfulness” in small proportions, but is

Eph. 3:20 -  “exceeding, abundantly, all that we ask or think.

Deut. 7:9 -  9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. 10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

Main point:   Don’t try to “regain” societies definition of trust, rather “gain” spirit-filled trust, which is His fruit flowing through you.

Secular trust means that you stay just trustworthy enough for people to let you work independent without looking over your shoulder. 

Spirit-filled trust doesn’t focus on trying to get others to trust you, rather living a life that exemplifies trust, leaving perceptions of you up to them.

3.         Safeguarding the health of your trust
(that is safeguarding your need to be trustworthy)

Boundaries section - (see Lisa)

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

A deeper spiritual level is not just seeing the NEED to be trustworthy, but desiring to be trustworthy.
focal text:  change from Matthew 5:27-30
to another text for faithfulness that is more positive toward “thanks for faithfulness” theme.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

add commentary

(balance this text of not believing the lie that YOU ARE NOT WORTHY, versus taking responsibility for your actions.)

Keeping yourself pure.
Owning up to the hurt that adultery and lust that causes in a marriage.

If you’ve committed adultery, and you’ve truly repented from it, as opposed to feeling bad that you got caught, hold on, because I’ll share with you at the end of the message a word of HOPE for you.

But don’t be so quick to want to go there.  Take responsibility for the fact that YOU CHOSE your sinful desire over the care and love of your spouse.

The first is that it’s a radical concept of faithfulness. “Of course you may not commit adultery,” implies Jesus, “because that not only violates your marriage but it dishonors your mate and it joins you to another person in the most intimate, personal and sacred way possible.

Do that, and you’ve done absolutely the most offensive thing to your mate imaginable.” Marriage is holy, says scripture.

Hebrews 13:4 says: “Marriage is honorable; let us all keep it so, and the marriage bond inviolate.” (New English Bible).

Another translation is: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.” That means it is a thing of great value, something precious to be treasured.

It’s to be respected, reverenced, venerated, and honored. The same word is used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe how we are to honor God himself. We are to cherish marriage as of inestimable worth-something sacred. I wonder how many of us ever really think about marriage that way?

Healing and restoration in a marriage that has been sliced in two by sexual unfaithfulness requires the deepest repentance and the highest love.

But, says Jesus, you mustn’t even consider in your imagination another person other than your mate because even just thinking about having another person puts you on a pathway that will lead you so far away from God that it leads to a path of destruction.

The Bible often links adultery and idolatry because to commit adultery is to put your desires before obedience to God.

So, it’s not just a sin against marriage, but it’s a sin against God. So, first of all, Jesus’ concept of marital faithfulness is a radical one.

Secondary point under #1 – trust in marriage.

Find this verse in Malachi -

The prophet Malachi said, “The Lord was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, your wife by covenant. Do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth.”

Move this verse – marriage isn’t for everyone….

So when Jesus explained to his disciples that marriage is forever (in Matthew 19) they replied, (paraphrased) “Wow! If that’s the way it is, why would anybody ever marry?” Makes you wonder about their marriages, doesn’t it? To which Jesus replied, marriage isn’t for everybody.

Matthew 19:11: “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone.” [The Message translation]

Marriage is not a higher calling than singlehood. In fact, Saint Paul believed that the single life was better. He preferred it. He preferred it for church leaders. But Jesus is saying not everyone can enter marriage, not everyone should marry.

Have you noticed how wimpy “new vows” are these days?

(add humor here on how lax vows have become)

Vows aren’t a suggestion, rather a mandate

The vows we make in marriage are amazing:

I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

“Whatever happens, I’ll cling to you and take care of you.”

That’s the most solemn and all encompassing of promises.

Yes, God gave us marriage and the family as the most basic framework and structure for society. But alongside all these other things, there is another reason and it’s a “mystery:”

God says that good marriage is to reflect Christ’s love to an alienated world, to be a display to the world of the beauty, goodness and greatness of God.

So, just as a man leaves his parents and home and clings to his bride, so Jesus Christ left his heavenly home and came to love us. Just as the bridegroom promises to love, cherish, protect and be faithful to his bride, so Christ promises us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Just as in a good marriage there is love, patience, forgiveness and family love, so Christ always welcomes us back when we stray. Just as the good husband and father gives all his strength and energy to protect and provide for his family-the good mother does the same-so Christ gave his very life for us that we might be saved.

Add illustration - here

A wedding is a day; a marriage is a lifetime.
A wedding is a ceremony; a marriage is a Holy Covenant.
A wedding is a sign to friends and relatives; a marriage is a sign to the world.
A wedding is performed in God’s presence; a marriage is lived in the presence of God.
A wedding is a promise, a commitment; a marriage is keeping a promise, living a commitment.
A wedding is a celebration; a marriage is a sacrifice.
A wedding is the result of a series of decisions made in love; a marriage is a daily decision to love.

Love her more than your desires.

More than rest or relaxation or solitude;
love her more than sex or the pleasure it brings;
love her more than work or success or fame;
love her more than play; love her more than books or music, drama or art;
love her more than others.

Pleasing her, honoring her, cherishing her, nurturing her, celebrating her, enjoying her.... this is your calling now, son. If you cannot love her this way then do not marry her. Love her more than life itself.

But, too, you must love her less...less than God.

It’s really NOT that you love her less.

It’s just that we are to REALLY LOVE God – as 1st priority.


For when you love a woman as I have described, she can become your idol.

If that happens, you will have failed. Do not allow her to be the sun around which you rotate. No, love her more than all others but love her less than Him.

That’s good advice. Christ’s call to marital faithfulness is so costly, so extreme, so radical, that in this culture it can only be sustained by the love of Christ himself. So, this man, John Piper, said to his son, “Son, the greatest gift you can give your wife is loving God more than life.”

In the end, it’s not your love for your wife or your husband that enables you to be faithful, to be forgiving, to be the servant and lover a good marriage demands and requires,

it’s the love of God. And it’s the FAITHFULNESS that is produced through you.

2 Corinthians 5:14;

4 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

It’s the Love of Christ that enables, that constrains, that propels, that encourages, that allows us to love this way.”

2 Cor. 3:5-6,
 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.


The Spirit NOT ONLY gives LIFE, but gives FRUIT that BLESSES us in our relationships.

That’s the mystery of marriage. Some of you might be saying to yourself, “Well, John, that’s all fine and good. All those things Jesus said about marriage, that’s great, but what does that have to do with me?”

You might be saying, “We’re surviving in our marriage, we’re kind of drifting along, but I’m afraid if we’re not growing we might be dying.” Or you might be saying, “Nobody knows it but I’m losing hope in my marriagemy husband will never change,” or “You don’t know my wife.” “That all sounds sweet, Reverend, but you don’t know my problems.” I know, I don’t, but God does.

Luke 1:37 says: “Nothing is impossible with God.”

God can grow your mate and your marriage. I don’t want you leaving today without hope. Nothing is impossible with God. You may want to pray for a married couple that is in need this morning. As we are still before God, let him give you hope if you need it, and listen if he would have you take just one step this week. I don’t know what it should be; he has to tell you. Let’s be quiet before God for a moment.

We talked A LOT about the LIES the enemy wants us to believe, at our men’s retreat.

Some of those lies have to do with our marriages.

The LIE that says,

You must criticize and condemn each other.
You must withdraw in a conflict.
The lie that says, I have to be right or she’ll get the upper hand.

GOD DEMONSTRATES TRUSTWORTHINESS….
Psalm 100:5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

ILL. The songwriter is right:
SING
"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father...
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me."

OR
COME LET US WORSHIP AND BOW DOWN, FOR THE LORD WHOSE FAITHFUL,  FOR THE LORD WHOSE ABLE.

FOR HE IS OUR GOD, AND WE ARE HIS PEOPLE,

He is our God, and we will NEVER BE forsaken.


APPL.

And if we allow His Spirit to work within us, then the fruit of faithfulness will be real & evident in our lives, too.

We Then yield to his guidance,
and are less apt to become tempted and discouraged as we live out that fruit.

In the spirit one night as I prayed over Lisa, I said, “Lord, let’s love Lisa with a radical kind of love”.  I was asking God to love Lisa with me, but to do so in a manner in which she knew it was ME and Him.

As I live out the fruit of the Spirit, my love is reliable and trustworthy.

A staying power through both good & bad, a faithfulness that the world doesn’t understand.

DEFINITION OF FAITHFULNESS

Let’s define "faithfulness" & make sure that we’re talking about the same thing.

If you were going to define faithfulness, as Paul uses it in the N.T., how would you do it? Well, if you looked in the dictionary, you would find a technical definition that says,

Faithfulness defined (trustworthy)
"To follow through with a commitment regardless of difficulty."

But let me give you one that may be easier to remember,

5.  A Trust Virus Does not Have Deadly
(Faithfulness is love saying, "I will not quit.)

It’s not “regaining trust”, rather “gaining TRUST through spirit-filled FAITHFULNESS.

In relationships you will be:

Disappointed, discouraged, frustrated, not understood.

Illustration -   Regaining TRUST….

Gaining God-filled trust.

Revelation 17:14 says we are to be faithful in following the Lord.

Proverbs 31:26 speaks of faithful instruction.

3rd John 3 says we are to be faithful in the truth.

Revelation 13:10 speaks of faithfulness even in times of persecution.

Revelation 2:10 says we are to be faithful unto death & then we’ll receive the crown of life.


Jesus demonstrates FAITHFULNESS i…A DEMONSTRATION OF FAITHFULNESS…

Matthew 16:21

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Basically, Christ was saying, “No matter what I have to face, I’m doing it for you.”

In the next verse Peter tries to stop Him. He said, "Lord, don’t go!"

Matthew 16:22-23

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Here’s the reason that He called Peter "Satan" - because Satan was using Peter to try to get Jesus to quit, to be unfaithful.

Again & again throughout His ministry Satan tried to tempt Jesus to be unfaithful.

"Don’t go to the cross. Don’t die for their sins. Just quit.

It’s going to be too tough. There will be too many obstacles, too many difficulties. Just turn around & quit."

In the King James Version it states, "Jesus set His face steadfastly toward Jerusalem."

Jesus was determined that no matter what happened, He would be faithful to the mission God had for Him to do. So "steadfastly" He goes to Jerusalem.

Even while He was hanging on the cross, the people below Him were mocking Him, saying, "If you really are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

That’s what Satan was saying, too. "Quit! Come down.

It’s not worth it. The pain is too intense. The people don’t care anyway. Just quit!"

But He continued to hang there until finally He says, "Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing." And "Into thy hands I commit my spirit." That’s faithfulness. That’s faithfulness unto death.

And the faithfulness of Jesus has inspired the faithfulness of others down through the ages, those who hung in there, through the good & the bad, through times of plenty & times of want.

There must have been many times you were tempted TO QUIT on a relationship.

"I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it.”

I don’t want to hang in there."

But God had called us to be faithful.

Our children and grandchildren will be the recipients of our faithfulness.

Note:  The Fruit of Faithfulness is a natural process, when we are spirit-led.
A branch connected to the vine, naturally produces fruit, because it’s what a branch it created to do.

But ultimately, the branch is NOT the producer of the fruit.

It’s the VINE or the ROOT of the tree, that grows the fruit.

(add men’s retreat stuff here)

So there are certain things that we need to be careful about.

1.  TEMPTATION will come… it happened to Jesus, so don’t be nieve to think it won’t happen to you.

We will be faithful to our wives men?
Wives will you be faithful to your husband?

 
 The enemy will tempt you to be unfaithful.

2.   Don’t focus on the potential temptation focus on the positive in your relationship to God and to your wife.

The Holy Spirit WILL produce the fruit of faithfulness when…. (finish statement)

The world will tell you, if it gets too tough, throw in the towel…

But you have the AUTHORITY over the ENEMY…

Praise and worship leader, Ron Kenoly has a great song entitled, “If you catch hell, don’t hold it, but if your going through hell, don’t stop.”

Quote:   No weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Tom Grady, our men’s retreat speaker told us,

That Satan’s goal is to

1.  Take you to hell

And if he can’t have you

2.    He’ll try to bring “hell on earth” in many ways, including in your relationships.

Being trustworthy in your relationship is a GREAT attack against the enemy that wants to destroy your marriage.

You’re gonna get knocked down.

That’s not the focus –

The focus should be on getting up!

If you’re thinking that you can’t TRUST again, because some has let you down, let me share with you others that GOD used, that weren’t always faithful…

You may recognize them….

(list guys in scripture from men’s retreat that screwed up)

End on the screw up Paul, the murderer and then quote the following:
Then came that glorious day when the old Apostle Paul wrote these words to Timothy, "The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - & not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" [2 Timothy 4:6b-8].


Are you tempted to quit? Don’t stop. Keep pressing on. Hang in there, because faithfulness is love hanging on.


ASK LISA ABOUT MICHELE SCHULTZE’S EXPEREIENCE TALKING WITH A REBELLION TEEN…  (capture Michelle Shutlze)  - see Mike Daniel on getting this video done.

REASON PEOPLE GET MARRIED---- LOVE?

What makes a marriage successful?

The popular answer from all age groups is…

What makes a marriage successful is…. What?   LOVE….

1.  Most people who marry say they do so because they LOVE.

If MOST people marry, because they LOVE each other, is it LOVE that keeps them together?

Because remember, in Christ, you don’t “fall in and out of love” – impossible.

Because LOVE is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that IS HIS LOVE produced THROUGH US.

And we know that 1 Cor. 13:8 tells us this kind of love NEVER FAILS.

If that’s the case, then why does 1 in 3 marriages, closing in on 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce.

Of those who do not divorce, a significant percentage are miserable in their marriage.

Could it be that the DEFINITION people use for LOVE, is NOT really LOVE at all?

As FETUS would say on Gunsmoke, Ms. Kitty, there is TROUBLE IN DODGE CITY.

(it’d be great to get a video clip on Fetus saying this)

If that’s YES, then could it that the word FAITHFULNESS is also skewed.

The word FAITHFUL here in Gal. 5:23 is the word for being TRUSTWORTHY.

IF FOLKS MARRY BECAUSE OF LOVE, then were they wrong?
Did they really LOVE EACH OTHER?

There is NOT one answer to that question.

Every situation is different, however, there may be common denominators in it.

You no many who divorce continue to love each other, yet they can’t stand to live together.

So many other things can happen to KILL a marriage other than a LACK OF LOVE.

Move this point                         

       I.            A suggestion: if mutual love is healthy, maturing, and responsible, marriage will be successful.

                           A.            The real question: what allows mutual love to be healthy, mature, and responsible?

                                                     1.            There are many factors involved in love being healthy, mature, and responsible.

                                                     2.            Consider two key factors.

                                                                             a.            A healthy, mature, responsible love has the courage to be vulnerable because it is rooted in and nourished by trust.

                                                                                                       i.            "I give you my heart because I trust you not to break it."

                                                                                                     ii.            "I give you my emotions because I trust you not to trash them."

                                                                                                  iii.            "I give you my confidence because I trust you to be fair with me."

                                                                                                  iv.            "Because I trust, I know you won't hurt me."

                                                                                                     v.            "Therefore, I am not afraid to be vulnerable with you."

                                                                            b.            A healthy, mature, responsible love expresses itself in unselfish devotion.

                                                                                                       i.            "You matter to me."

                                                                                                     ii.            "Your happiness matters to me."

                                                                                                  iii.            "Your will being matters to me."

                                                                                                  iv.            "Your joy and contentment matter to me."

                                                                                                     v.            "You matter so much to me that I will not knowingly make you unhappy, put you at risk, or destroy your joy and contentment."

                                                     3.            "You are so important to me that I will not hesitate to make sacrifices for you."

LOSE The POINT SYSTEM APPROACH to MARRIAGE section

     II.            A marriage that chooses to function on the "point system" or the "ledger system" opposes the health, maturity, and responsible nature of love.

                           A.            What is the "point system" or the "ledger system?"

                                                     1.            It is a system that determines what happens in your marriage, when it happens, and to whom it happens.

                                                                             a.            "I get my way this time; you get your way next time."

                                                                            b.            "We must be very careful to take turns about everything every time, and we keep very careful records about whose turn it is."

                                                                             c.            "We always keep track of who owes whom what."

                           B.            Why does the point system or ledger system work against the health, maturity, and responsibility of love?

                                                     1.            First, it works against healthy, mature, responsible love by declaring:

                                                                             a.            "I do not trust you to take care of me; I must take care of me."

                                                                            b.            "I am so focused on taking care of me and making certain that you are fair to me that I am rarely focused on you."

                                                                             c.            "I must protect myself; I must force you to be fair to me."

                                                                            d.            "My mother (or my father) was really hurt in her (his) marriage, and I will never let you hurt me."

                                                                             e.            "I do not have confidence in you; I really don't believe that you know how to take care of me or want to take care of me."

                                                                               f.            This approach to marriage proceeds on an insecure foundation of self-centered thinking.

                                                     2.            Second, it works against love because men and women are different.

                                                                             a.            "Duh! That is a brilliant observation!"

                                                                            b.            The differences between men and women go far beyond sexuality and physical makeup.

                                                                                                       i.            There are significant emotional differences.

                                                                                                     ii.            There are significant differences in perspectives.

                                                                                                  iii.            There are significant differences in their approach to life.

                                                                                                  iv.            Such differences do not make one superior to the other.

                                                     3.            I have no desire to build or promote stereotypes, but in speaking in this context it is necessary to deal with generalities. I readily acknowledge that there are exceptions. But, for the sake of illustration, let me cite two things.

                                                                             a.            Illustration one: shopping.

                                                                                                       i.            Telephone rings, husband answers, his wife's friend asks for her, his reply: "She's gone shopping." Interpretation: I don't know when she will be home.

                                                                                                     ii.            Telephone rings, wife answers, her husband's friend asks for him, her reply, "He has gone to buy something." Interpretation: call back in thirty minutes.

                                                                                                  iii.            Women shop; men buy; women search before they buy; men just buy.

                                                                                                  iv.            We husbands should be eternally grateful they do.

                                                                                                     v.            If they did not, the economy would collapse, there would be no Christmas and birthday presents, and we men would wear the same thing every day.

                                                                            b.            Decision making.

                                                                                                       i.            Men solve problems; they consider only facts; they reach decisions privately with what they consider to be logic.

                                                                                                     ii.            Women are intuitive; considerations other than facts are as important as facts; they reach conclusions by talking about it.

                                                     4.            So what? So men and women are different. What does that have to do with the point or ledger system?

                                                                             a.            They will never be perceived as fair by both husband and wife.

                                                                            b.            Men and women's definition of "fair" is different.

                                                                             c.            Men and women's definition of "big matters" and "little matters" is different.

                                                                            d.            Men and women's definition of "important matters" and "unimportant matters" are different.

                                                     5.            Any such system will do three things.

                                                                             a.            At times it will make each of them feel exploited.

                                                                            b.            At times it will depersonalize each of them.

                                                                             c.            Many times it will make both of them feel like they are losing.

When marriage becomes a win/lose situation, everybody loses.

1.   Don’t get frustrated when you are asked to verify that you are faithfulness to her.

Don’t just say “trust me”

1.      Examine yourself -  have you said or done anything that has increased the chances that your spouse will be unfaithful (can’t say that but reword).

If you are being who God wants you to be in Christ, you can’t own your spouses action, when they have been unfaithful.

That will keep your value of who you are in Christ, positive.
It will enhance your self-esteem, if you know that you have been who you’ve needed to be in Christ.

Regardless of whether you have or not been who you’ve need to be.

Move this section under #4- Trust virus does not have to be deadly.

4.a.  Keeping the trust - requires a fight.  Don’t quit on the relationship.

Evidence of what we can see stacks up so high against the assurance of what we can’t see, that a life long trust, crumbles in a moment.

God is always faithful, so your momentary lapse in trusting him, does not mean that you lose your salvation, rather, you lapse in trusting him, means that you are human, and you must fight your human emotion that sometimes tricks you into thinking that God is not faithful.

Eph. 6:10-18

In addition (greek means “epi” – spreading out over the rest of Eph. 6:16) meaning that the shield of faith.  The shield of faith protects against burning arrors)
put on the shield of faith


Faith (trust) is what covers over your protection.

RECONCILED FAITH (TRUST) in marriage is needed in order to protect your marriage.

Fighting for reconciliation is not merely “forgiving your husband or your wife” so that you can live a hunky doring “father knows best” existence, rather reconcile trust, protects your marriage, the flaming arrows of the enemy.

You deserve a reconciled relationship.

Remember, however, TRUSTING man, also requires you to verify that they are holding up to their end.

RECONCILIATION
4.b  Being faithful through forgiveness.

Section on reaching out

Faithfulness means forever – Matt. 19:3-6

Matthew records in chapter 19:3
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Jesus went on to say, “No man may divorce what God has joined together. Moses did allow divorce for certain instances, but it was not what God originally intended.” (Verse 7)

ENDING POINT…

4.c.  And regardless of whether you’ve been faithful at all times,

God is a God of second chances….

God is a God of Reconciliation

Remember, God has been faithful….

Philippians 1:3–11 (He who began a good work in you – will be faithful.

2 Chronicles 33:10–20

God gives second chances… do you?

JONAH 3:1…

"Now the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time . . ." (Jonah 3:1).

God doesn’t want to marriages to end.  God wants marriages not only survive but thrive.

God has modeled second chances.

Big point

What gets in the way of the desire to give a second chance?

Fear.

Add passages of overcoming fear.

Fear is the arch enemy of faith.

2 Tim. 1:7

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

2 Kings 6:8-   Story tell this passage.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Play out your worst fear.
What will God do if your worst fear comes true.

What will God do with that.

4.d.  Releasing disappointment when there’s been repentance, will bring healing to emotional intimacy faster.

Don’t forget, men are still waffles and women are still sphagetti (author of book)

Men that means that it sometimes takes A LOT Of words to communicate with your wife.  More words that you care to use, and is sometimes exhausting for you and for her, but it shows incredible nurture and care to be willing to use them.

Afterwards, you can take a nap to recover!!!

Explain statement

3 John 2

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Caring for each other is great thing.

Caring for your spouse’s “well being” is a good thing.

5.   Maintaining Relational Trust -  Rebuilding the Trust Immune System

a.   Relationship with Christ Is the Foundation of A Healthy Marriage
While a personal relationship with God is very important, one of the special privileges that married couples have is to pray and study God's Word together. As day by day they kneel seeking God's presence in their family, their hearts are bonded more closely together. Prayers for guidance in some major decision, prayers for a sick child, prayers for pressing financial needs, prayers for victory over some sin, prayers for each other, prayers of praise—these can be the sweetest, most intimate times for husband and wife. Our God is faithful. He answers those prayers. Scripture indicates, "If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven" (Matthew 18:19).
Studying the Word together enables a couple to discover those passages that speak of developing closer, deeper relationships with one another. A Christian author describes it thus: "The Creator who began with nothingness and made beautiful mountains and streams and clouds and cuddly little babies has elected to give us the inside story of the family. . . . Everything from handling money to sexual attitudes is discussed in scripture with each prescription bearing the personal endorsement of the King of the Universe" (Dobson, 1987, p. 54). The Bible assures us, "The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him" (Lamentations 3:25).

How does our relationship with Christ help?

Because we can then see our Marriage As An Example of Christ's Ministry
Husbands and wives may provide a practical example of God's love to other couples and individuals who might need their help and influence. (8) The evangelistic potential of a married couple is enormous. Ellen White says, "Marriage does not lessen their usefulness, but strengthens it. They may make their married life a ministry to win souls to Christ . . ." (White, 1952, p. 102).
As husband and wife minister together to others, opening their home in hospitality and opening their hearts to share their own experience, the marriage itself will be refreshed and strengthened.


b.  Communication: The Life Blood of A Marriage
A professor in one of our colleges used to say frequently to his students, "If there is a God of love, He will reveal Himself." The Bible states, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:8). God must reveal Himself for us to know and love Him. The same concept is operative in marriage. Husbands and wives must reveal themselves to each other in order to be truly known and loved. The complaint most commonly verbalized by wives concerning their husbands is, "I really do not know this man because he does not talk to me."
Why do men and women have such trouble communicating? One reason is because they are different. When these differences are not understood and appreciated the relationship quickly loses it's "spark" and the early attraction begins to wane. Too often one or both spouses try to change their partner to be like themselves, or they suppress their feelings and just do not talk about their concerns. Both strategies hurt and can eventually destroy the relationship (see Gray, 1992, p. 49). (6)
Two factors largely influence couple communication. One is attitude and the other is the art of listening. One author has wisely stated, "Let all seek to discover the excellencies rather than the defects. Often it is our own attitude, the atmosphere that surrounds ourselves, which determines what will be revealed to us in another" (White, 1952, p. 105).
Listening is a matter of the heart. It is said, "There is music in all hearts. If we listen we can hear each other's song." Too often we do not really listen with the heart. We can do that for our spouses by looking at them when they speak, trying to understand not only the content of what they saying, but the feelings behind their words as well. After they have shared their feelings, we can then reflect back to them what we think they have said, and the feelings we heard them express. (7)
Listening from the heart is one of the most respectful and affirming things we can do for one another. This listening with love will heal hurts, banish resentments, and resolve anger, as well as enhance intimacy.

It’s exhausting but needed…

Husbands and wives, view the same situation differently.


 When their automobile broke down and had to be towed for a hundred miles at a cost of $1 per mile, a husband, somewhat melancholy by temperament, was gloomy and irritable. His wife, however, saw at least one positive benefit and tried to convey that to him, "Think of all the fuel we are saving!"

c.  The Importance of Spending Time Together
Many married couples are so exhausted at the end of the day that they have no time for each other. Weeks and even months may go by without any deep, intimate sharing or time alone.
If you do not fill in your calendar, someone else will. Make it a priority to write in appointments with your spouse. (3) You have to schedule time for one another as carefully as you schedule work, classes, and church activities. This is such an important concept that even God has written us into His calendar. That is why He gave the Sabbath as a special time for us to be with Him.
An important aspect of your planning together also includes setting goals for your marriage. Consider the needs that you have as individuals or as a couple. These may be tangible needs such as further education, paying off debts, saving for a home, or they may be intangible needs such as more personal leisure time, more couple time, or developing better communication skills (Flowers, 1988, p. BE 75). Which needs do you think are the most important for you? How might you and your spouse work together to set goals to meet these needs?

d.  Relax through Affirmation and Humor   - No margin means a low relational immune system.
Husbands and wives have an incredible power to build up or to destroy one another. If they are not careful, spouses can lose sight of those special qualities that first drew them together. When this happens they begin to focus on the negatives.
Everyone needs affirmation. The Bible says, "How delightful is a timely word" (Proverbs 15:23, NASB). Charlie Shedd suggests that everyday spouses should share at least one thing they appreciate about each other, and weekly they should affirm a quality never mentioned before. Someone once said, "Try praising your wife, even if at first it frightens her."
Humor, laughter, and pleasant times will also enhance a relationship, but this is often overlooked in the busyness and challenges of family life. The Bible says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). Life is serious business, but a couple who can laugh together will find joy in the midst of their struggles. One fitness expert claims that healthy people laugh several hundred times a day (Johnson, 1990, p. 72). (4)
One medical doctor calls laughter, "internal jogging," and believes that it has a beneficial effect on most of the major systems of the body. A bumper sticker expresses the same thought in a different way: "ONE LAUGH = 3 TABLESPOONS OF OAT BRAN" (Johnson, 1990, p. 72). "Jogging on the inside" in response to some natural humor not only eases the pain and suffering of life, but is really an indication of hope.
We can laugh because we know Someone is in control and that Someone loves us and is working all things together for good (see Romans 8:28). The Book of Job says, "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy" (Job 8:21). (5)


How Do Nutrition and Other Health Habits Affect the Quality of A Marriage?
Caring for the mind and body is as important as observing the laws of spiritual health (see White, 1946, p. 17). Tiredness, low energy, irritability, illness, depression, stress, moodiness—any one of these has the capability of destroying a relationship. How many divorces, affairs, or conflicts might be traced to a spouse who is too tired, too irritable, too self-absorbed to cultivate a

meaningful relationship?

e.   Practicing the also principle with daily responsibilities.

Sharing Roles

When I asked Lisa how I could improve as a pastor, she said, help us in the kitchen.

Huh?

Lisa volunteers out of my office nearly full-time, teaches a ladies Bible study, and is the interim leader for women’s ministry.

Plus a wife and a mom.  Whew!

Now I have to admit, I didn’t get the “help in the kitchen” peace of the equation on being a better pastor, but one role of the pastor, is to know the needs of his people.

Well, hello, the needs of my wife certainly qualify higher than other parishishers.

Whether your wife has Lisa’s schedule or not, helping around the house, communicates nurture to her than you know.

The same is true ladies when you see when your husband is over his limit emotionally with the balancing act of life, give him down time, free from guilt.

Talk it out.
The Bible admonishes us "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

Which is “love your neighbor as yourself”

  1. Money management is critical to reduce stress in your relationship.


How Important Are Savings and Realistic Budgeting?
A survey conducted by Christian Financial Concepts revealed that in a large sampling of Christian families, 40 percent spent more money than they made. The study also showed that almost half of the families surveyed spent approximately $2,000 per year on consumer interest. The pressures of overspending can lead to instability in the home. Ninety percent of those who divorce cite serious financial problems as the major contributing factor in the breakdown of the marriage (see Reid, 1993, p. 61).
The Bible makes it clear that debt is slavery. "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). "Many, very many, have not so educated themselves that they can keep their expenditures within the limit of their income. . . . They borrow and borrow again and again and become overwhelmed in debt, and consequently they become discouraged and disheartened" (White, 1952, p. 374).
Without a sane and sensible budget, the chances of incurring debt are nearly overwhelming. Once the budget is established by husband and wife, it directs how the family money will be spent. Decisions about purchases outside of the budget should be discussed, studied, and agreed upon before any action is taken. (11)
Materialism is one sign of the end-time. Married couples need to keep in mind the effect of every financial decision upon their own relationship and their freedom to serve Christ. The counsel of the Apostle Paul is especially relevant to our day, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another" (Romans 13:8).


  1. Loving your spouse alongside God loving her.

Your Partnership With God
To be partners, this is God's preventive health-care plan for marriages. Every married couple must value these principles and intentionally make them a part of their daily life. The diseases attacking marriages are more resistant and deadly than at any other time in history. A failed marriage has devastating and far reaching consequences not only for the family but for the church and for society. There can be no delay. Now is the time to act. A failure to follow these principles will certainly open the way for disease in any marriage. To follow the "partners" plan with God's help will cause true love for your spouse and family to grow and strengthen. What in life can really compare with that?

TRUST

Taking the Time to Talk
            Set appointments with your spouse (on your calendar)
 

Responsibilities

Understanding through communication

Saving and spending

Trust renewed

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