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Married life is full of excitement and frustration:
* In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens.
* In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens.
* In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen.
So, does anyone relate to the story above?  I know that I do.  Marriage is a subject that has taken some hits through recent history.  God chose to use marriage as maybe the integral foundation of humanity.  The family is a necessary piece of culture, and towns and nations.  Marriage is also used as a picture of what God’s eternal relationship with us will be like.
Now, the definition of marriage is suggestive.  It is seen as a state or federal issue.  It’s a piece of paper that has two person’s names on it.  It doesn’t have to be one man and one woman.  It can even be many people in a relationship.  It doesn’t have to be forever.  It’s seen as a tax advantage.  I’m not sure this is what God intended.  
For the next few weeks, Steve will be looking at this subject beyond the ceremony and rings.  Today though, I’d like to look at a basic of “relationships” that fits perfectly with this institution called marriage.
Here’s the basics.  We are not in a perfect world.  Think about our bodies.  As we get older, they wear down.  Batteries need recharged.  If you live really far away from where your DSL internet service comes from, your online speed drags a little.  The bowl of cereal I ate this morning will only last me a few hours before my body needs more fuel.  The rubber on your tires will wear down.  When you heat up your house in the winter time, the heat eventually escapes, thus your furnace has to “kick” back on to reheat your house.
Our world is not perfect.  Think about your relationships for a little bit…marriage as well.  Does it work for people to give 40% and expect 60% in return?  We expect higher returns.  We don’t expect to have to work harder for a bigger return…but that’s the way the world works.  And guess what…it will always be like that.  There is, however, another factor.  God.
God doesn’t work like that.  God is about eternity.  God is about filling up and keeping full.  God is about living water that will never dry up.  God is about forgiveness when it’s not deserved.  God is about turning sacrifices into eternal investments.  God is about being humble and meek but always ending up blessed beyond all understanding.  God is about peace in the middle of chaos.
Here’s the point, when God is in our lives, we have more than 100% to give.  With God in our lives, we have enough for ourselves and for people around us.  With God in our lives, we’re not worried about what people give us…He’s provided for us everything we need.
Do you know relationships that need that “God” piece?  Have you ever known someone who says their “cup” is never full enough to give to their friends or spouse or kids?  Well, God probably isn’t the one being asked to fill it.  If God is first in two people’s lives, they will always have enough to give to each other…even when one falters or has a bad week…or even a bad couple of years!  God is in the business of keeping our cup full.  I think that’s what Jesus meant when He said He wants to give us ‘Life Abundantly.’  We understand life on the ‘loss system.’  We’re always needing to be recharged or re-fed or re-energized or ….you get the picture.  God can do that with and for us.
The two greatest commandments, as Jesus stated, are to love God and then love our neighbors.  It has to be in that order as well.  When we love God and allow God to love and to love through us, we can really love our neighbors and family and friends etc.  Hope this makes sense.
Little kids, obviously, won’t be working on the marriage piece of Ephesians 5.  However, they can focus on the two greatest commandments.  The principle is the same.  I’m going to focus on friendships.  Friendship with God first means that we can be great friends to lots of other people.  And when we have a friend who puts God first, we have a friend who can always be there for us…even if we’ve been a horrible friend.  Cool concept…unknown to the sinful and imperfect world.
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