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Divorce Proof…God’s Way

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Divorce Proof…God’s Way

The newlywed wife said to her husband when he returned from work, “I have great news for you. Pretty soon, we’re going to be three in this house instead of two.”

Her husband ran to her with a smile on his face and delight in his eyes.

He was glowing of happiness and kissing his wife when she said, “I’m glad that you feel this way since tomorrow morning, my mother moves in with us.”

This is “part deux” of our little study of marriage and divorce.  Our text is still from the words that Jesus spoke on the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 5, Jesus does not mix words about marriage and divorce.  And the reason, we have to remember, is because the covenant of marriage was created by His Father.  Things of God are to not be taken lightly or trivially.  Marriage is one of those things…and divorce, for one reason or another, is the breaking of a covenant.

 

Again, before I even write any more, Jesus died on the cross for second chances.  If you are reading this wondering if you could ever be given a second chance after divorce or a messed up relationship…Jesus died and rose for that very reason.  Just ask for forgiveness from Jesus.  It is that simple.  Also, remember that just as Jesus can forgive us, we need to ask forgiveness from those we may have wronged through a break up.  On the other side of that coin, we need to forgive as well.  Tough stuff…but you can do it.  You will be blessed through the process.

 

Now back to the focus of creating an environment inside and around your future or present marriage commitment that does not allow for divorce.  The first thing might sound cliché, but it needs to be said.  God needs to be first in your life.  Without Him, you won’t see the design that He has laid out for the lives of His creations.  God has designed humans, male and female, with differences that only He can explain…and He has through His word.  Marriage was designed and created by God as well.  There are specific things, gifts, abilities, strengths, that He has given us to compliment a life-long mate.

 

The second thing might at first give you the feeling that you’re being boxed in.  If that’s the case, then please just be patient as I take a moment to outline my thought.  If number one is THE priority in your life, then number two should come easier.  Commit to staying inside the boundaries that God placed around the institution of marriage and commit to accepting them as He has stated them.  This is the hard part.  We’re selfish.  That might sound harsh, but we all are.  We think about ourselves and our feelings and our emotions.  But it’s not about us…it’s about Him.

 

Marriage is between one man and one woman.  God started with the marriage of His first two humans, Adam and Eve.  That’s the only way God defines it.  Marriage is supposed to be life-long.  That’s the only way God defines it…we know that from last week’s discussion on divorce.  Marriage is not living together…Jesus talks to the woman at the well about this.  Marriage is to always be about loving the other person.  Ephesians 5 defines this for both husband and wife.  These are God’s definitions.  The world, however, has come up with its own definitions.

 

So with these two things, we can figure that if we get farther away from God…or we walk outside of His boundaries, marriage will never be what it was intended to be for us or our children.  Yes, I know…I had to throw the kids in there…but they are a part of the original design.  Again, marriage isn’t about us.  It’s about God and our spouse and if applicable…our kids.

 

Ok…so here we are.  There’s the foundation.  We know we’re not perfect.  And many of you reading will say, “Well, I’ve messed it up.”  Yes, I’m in the same boat.  We’re all going to fall short of the perfect mark.  But that never means that we should settle for less…because when we settle for less it affects other people and our relationship with God.  What do we do then when we realize that God isn’t first, or we’ve messed things up with the people who are inside of them family we’ve helped create?

 

First thing.  Choose to change.  Ok…another simple answer that will take hard work.  Many of you might be saying ‘Easier said than done.’  Very true.  It’s always easy to say something rather than do something.  But when it comes down to it, what do you want?  If you really want a better relationship with God or a better relationship with your future or present spouse…you’ll do the hard work.  But that’s only if you really want it.  God has promised that we will have His Peace, His Blessings, and His Compliments when we walk with Him.  Oh that reminds me…It’s not us alone trying to change.  If we are truly walking with Him, it’s us and Him together doing the hard work.  You have a training coach…a partner.  The One who designed the system is going to mentor you in it.  You don’t often get a relationship like that this side of Heaven.

 

Change is tough.   I just read a story from leadership guru John Maxwell that detailed an emergency trip to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack.  The attending physician did immediate surgery and saved John’s life.  It was a new procedure.  One year earlier, the older standby procedure was still in place.  The Dr. told John that the new procedure saved his life.  If they hadn’t had changed, the old procedure would not have saved his life.  Change can be good.  John then had to change eating behaviors, lifestyle habits, etc.  Change is keeping John healthier…and…let’s just say it…alive.

 

What are you willing to change for the sake of God and your partner?  Are you willing to stay inside healthy dating habits as you approach marriage?  Will you commit to staying pure sexually?  Will you choose to keep living arrangements separate until marriage?  If you’re already married, are you willing to stop selfish attitudes that might be harmful?  Are you willing to give up your wants for more gain in the end in relationship to your wife and children?  What are you willing to change?  Are you willing to get help if necessary?  Are you willing to say to God that you want His plan rather than the world’s plan?  Are you willing to do the hard work?  I hope so.  Believe me, many reading this are saying…this has ‘Me’ written all over it.  Meaning…you’re not in the boat alone.  There are always bumps in the road.  Sometimes there are huge pot holes.  Sometimes the bridge is out…there is no road.  But God, the one who created the universe, can recreate roads and bridges.  Again, are you willing?  He wants you to be.  He’s your biggest cheerleader!  He wants you to either start right…or start over right.  He is the God of second chances.  Take the second chance He’s offering you.

 

Summary:  How to divorce proof marriage?  Accept God and His ways for marriage and follow them.  Blessings will follow.

 

PS – I know that we’re talking about marriage here, but as Paul states in Ephesians 5, we are talking ultimately about God’s Kingdom and about Christ our savior.  When we operate within the rules of the Kingdom, we show others that God is number one in our lives and that being with Him is a great place to be.  Other’s will notice that and wonder why we have Peace in the midst of a perceived storm.  The Kingdom will keep moving forward.  As Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell…” won’t stop us.

 

Marriage Relationships


Keep your eyes wide open before the wedding,
half shut afterwards.   ~Benjamin Franklin
Ok, I’m a big fan of Ben Franklin and his wit.  But there is a bunch of truth in his statement.  Haha.  Again, these notes are for those who are in leadership within the NICC family.  My hope is that they help all of us stay on the same page and also help those who are following Steve’s messages in their own classes and groups.  Leadership is very important to where we head together as a family and it’s is directly related to how we keep the Gospel moving throughout our community.
I’m going to give my own opinion of what Ben meant when he penned this quip.  Make sure you know the weight of the commitment your making before the ceremony.  After the ceremony…everything in stride.  J  That’s not saying something bad…it’s just the truth.  This is also the truth in any relationship, friendship, business partnership, teacher/student situation, mentor/mentoree. 
Things always look great on the outset.  But when you get down to the brass tacks of any situation, the little things come out, the negatives seem to rise to the surface, the problems can seem larger, but the opportunities for fun and success are doubled or even exponentially increased.  Before, there was just you. Now, there’s you and your spouse or new friend or new partner or new student.  There you and your problems…and theirs as well.  There’s your weaknesses and theirs.  And you thought you had a hard time dealing with your difficulties.  Now you’re dealing with two or more times the difficulties.  But remember…the good things are as well.  You have to have, in a weird sort of way, your eyes half shut…to overlook and get by those things could push you to make rash and regretful decisions.
I’m going to make a quick run through of the verses that Steve picked for this week.  They are great for this subject! 

·         Malachi talks about families being the place where the next generations of God-followers are raised!  Families are important to God.  He wants them to be healthy.

·         1 Peter talks how love can cover a multitude of sins (half closed eyes)…able to over look things that would normally tear us apart.  Forgiveness and forbearance goes a long, long way in any relationship.  Remember, this is from the guy who denied Jesus 3 times right before the crucifixion. 

·         Joshua encouraged his followers, the Israelite nation, to be strong and courageous.  Godly relationships are characterized by courage and constant encouragement to get through the tough times!  They ARE going to happen…but courage and constant encouragement help us make it to incredible days and breakthroughs and dreams.

·         King Solomon writes in proverbs that having fun, smiling, laughing brings health to the body…and, with what we’re focusing on, it brings health to any relationship, whether it be two people or more…even a huge organization or company.

As leaders, we need to bring these characteristics into our lives.  The simple test is to ask the questions, Are we focused on our commitment to God?  Do we love others in a way that is unconditional?  Do lead with courage and encouragement?  Another way to ask that last question is this: Do people follow us because of our courage?  Do we make things fun?  Do we bring cheer to the group or relationship?

For kids – I’m going to focus on Joshua 1:9.  Kid’s need concrete instruction, and Joshua’s story is easy for them to grasp…and kids always love adventure.  Here’s the basic outline of Joshua’s story.

·         He knows that God has given them the land, the great and wonderful land, on the other side of the Jordan river.

·         He knows, and Israel knows, that there are some huge and fortified cities and peoples over there that won’t like him and them.
·         He knows that to get to that great thing, the promised land, there is going to be some bumps in the road.

·         He still sets his eyes on the prize, and takes God’s encouragement to him and gives it away to his followers, the Israelites.

The story applies to relationships too.  Sometimes we need to have God’s encouragement and courage to help us become great friends and daughters and sons.  And if we can have God’s encouragement and courage, then there are great things ahead for u

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Time in a Bottle


·         There are two times a man does’nt understand a woman, before marriage and after marriage!
  • ·         To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all !
  • ·         Marriage is a mutual relationship if both parties know when to be mute.
  • ·         Man and wife make one fool.

Well, enough of the one liners.  But you know, there is a little bit of truth in each of those.  For this week’s notes, I’ll be focusing on a principle that will help both the kid’s teachers and adult leaders.  Obviously, we won’t be covering marriage in the kids’ classes.  However, we can cover the principles of ‘loving your neighbor’ and ‘putting other people first.’

Marriage works best when each partner is able to see the needs of the other, rather than their own, and make their able best attempt, humbly, to meet them.  When that happens, there is usually an equal and opposite reaction.  Love bounces back and forth…and with God’s help…grows without loss of energy.  Pride becomes non-existent.  This also can happen with friendships and other relationships.

The main verse we need to look at is one that you already know.  Mark 12:28-34 explains the account of the religious leaders of that time trying to catch Jesus in a wrong answer.  They ask Him what the greatest commandment is.  He responds with two simple answers.  The first is to love God with all that you have.  The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Pretty simple.  Put that into marriage or any other relationship, and you’re asked to love God…then love your spouse or friend with your whole heart.

‘If-then’ statements work well here.  If you have an awesome relationship with God, then you will understand you have a purpose to love other people in His unconditional way.  You also would know that we are to put others above us, their needs before ours.  Earth is temporary…Heaven is eternal.  We can give up here to gain there.  God asks us to do that for our husbands, wives, friends and enemies.  Imagine how much we could change our immediate world if we lived this way day in and day out.  It’s not about us.  It’s all about God and His purposes for us.

And….when we know the needs of the other person, we can better serve them.   Remember, this doesn’t mean to be a lowly and beaten up slave.  It means to serve in love with sacrifice as Jesus did.  Will the other person always reciprocate the sacrifice, love, or help?  No.  In fact you may not even receive gratitude.  But remember who is smiling because of your actions.  They will not go unnoticed.  You can live with a smile on your face by putting a smile on God’s. 

Now, the second subject here.  I’m sure all of us are very willing and very understanding of the above principles.  However, we get caught when the next satanic trap comes into play.  Time.  Do we take time to serve?  Do we give up time to serve and love?  Do we say ‘no’ to the right things or the wrong things?  Do you find yourself thinking, “That would be great if I only had time”?  Do you find yourself saying, “I’ve got other things that need to get done”?  Sometimes we are legitimately busy.  Most of the time we’ve just mismanaged out time, and then, we mismanage our service to others.  We mismanage our love and we shut out spontaneous love.

What would your marriage, your friendships, your family, your neighborhood, your church family look like if we all tried a little harder at living like Jesus wants us to?  Would we take more time to sit and listen and look for the needs of those around us?  Would we give up more of our time and our energy and our resources for others?  I know we would.  Let’s do it.
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Marriage


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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