A Significant Marriage

The sermon series that our church has been going through over the last few weeks is entitled:  A Questionable Life:  Do our lives make others ask why?  It’s based off a simple verse in 1 Peter.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  – 1 Peter 3:15

This week, the topic was “Have a weird marriage.”  Right off my wife and I looked at each other and asked if they were talking about us.  I want to recap and expand on the sermon as it really got me thinking about my marriage and how the relationship with my wife is seen by my children and others.

Nowadays, the idea of staying married for a lifetime is becoming less the norm than it was in the previous generation.  We see so many marriages fail within ten years that our children are learning that it’s OK to get married, have some kids and then when you’re bored with each other, feel free to move on to the next relationship.   The days of long term marriage is fading.  My wife and I have been married for 22 years and among my family, circle of friends and acquaintances, that is a long time.

We were at a wedding this past spring where they had the marriage dance (or whatever they call it) where all the married couples were invited onto the dance floor.  After a few moments the DJ announced, “Those that were married today, please leave the dance floor.”  After a few more moments, “Those that have been married for less than 5 years, please leave the dance floor.”  This continued on until when the time came for my wife and I to leave there were only three couples left.   My parents ended up “winning” by being married for 56 years.  What I learned from that was:

  1. I want what those three couples that were still on the floor after we left had.  When looking at those couples, you could see they were not only husband and wife, but indeed best friends.  My wife is my best friend and we’ve been together for 25 years in total and I hope to become even closer to her as we move into the second half of our lives.
  2. I am somewhat saddened by the fact that there were only three left.  And many that had left the floor before my wife and I were much older and on their second marriage.  I do remember that God hates divorce, but loves divorced people.

We are called to have more than just great marriages, we are called to have significant marriages.  A significant marriage is more than just staying together and not hating each other, it’s about an example that the younger generation can see about how marriage works and how God’s love shows through in your marriage.   I once had a friend come up to me out of the blue and tell that she watched how my wife and I interacted with each other and what a great marriage we had and how we were an inspiration to her.  Others watch.  Others see how you look at your wife and how she looks at her husband.  They see if you genuinely love each other or not.  We are being watched in our marriages.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. – Mark 10:7,8

Have more than just a great marriage, have a significant one.

God Speaks to us to Deepen Relationships

This was the message recently at our church, that God speaks to us not to impart some special wisdom or knowledge, not to just tell us what we need to do….but to deepen his relationship with us.  God speaks to us in so many ways, but he will find the most effective way to communicate with you at the time he wants to.

For me, the main ways he has communicated with me in the past is through Scripture and during my private prayer time.  However, at this church service, he really spoke to me through the message and through the worship time….in fact, this has been two weeks in a row, that the message has spoken to me in such a profound way, that it could only be God driven.   I won’t got into details, other than to say that I’m excited about what God revealed to me.

I will talk to something else though, how God has deepened my relationship with him today through his message.  What he showed me today was that he really does care about me and what I do.  He is a very personal God, not one that is distant or scary, but one that I can have an honest chat with, one that I can find comfort in, one that I can rely on.   God wants to be a part of our daily lives.  He wants to come to work with us, to spend our day together.  He is not satisfied with us just spending time with him on Sunday for an hour.

Imagine the time spent with your parents, or your spouse, your children or a best friend.  It would be almost impossible to have a meaningful relationship if you only interacted with them for one hour per week.  My wife and I interact throughout the day.  She’s the first person I see and speak to in the morning and usually the last at night.  We often communicate in person or electronically (if we’re not physically together) often.  And she’s always on my mind, when we are apart.

What if we had that kind of relationship with God.  What if he was the first person we spoke to in the morning, “God, thank you for this new day!”  What if he was the last person we spoke to at night, “God, bless us with a restful night.”  What if he was always on our minds throughout the day?  Just as with your spouse, when you spend more time and communicate more, the relationship deepens.

And the beautiful thing is, by including God more in your day, it doesn’t come at the exclusion of others.  In fact, I feel that the more I speak with God, the deeper my relationship with my wife and children becomes.  The more I spend time with God throughout the workday, the more productive worker I become.  It’s not a zero-balance scenario where you add more time with God but have to take away time from others…..no I feel it’s an exponential growth scenario.  Spend more time with God and the rest of your life explodes with his grace and blessings.

My one bit of advice this day, is to spend more time with God, speaking with him and reading his word and you’ll be amazed at how he responds.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #5 – Wisdom is calling to you

As I continue down this road in Proverbs, we are finishing up Chapter 1 with a personification of wisdom of someone shouting in the street.  This is used to help wisdom come alive for us.

Wisdom shouts in the streets.  She cries out in the public square.  She calls out to the crowds along the main street, and to those in front of city hall.  – Proverbs 1:20,21

We know that wisdom is not a living being, but it is the mind of God revealed to us.   We can see Wisdom in action by reading about Jesus’ ministry here on earth.  And if we want to learn how to become wise we need listen to the “calling” of Wisdom and learn it’s instruction that is laid out in the book of Proverbs (and in the whole Bible)  for us.

“You simpletons!” she cries, “How long will you go on being simpleminded?  How long will you mockers relish your mocking?  How long will you fools fight the facts?  Come here and listen to me!  I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.”  – Proverbs 1:22,23

Here we have the term simpleton.  Here the term simpleton is not someone with a mental deficiency, but someone with a character deficiency.    This could be rebellion, laziness or perhaps anger).  The simpleton is not stupid, but they are unable to tell right from wrong or good from bad.

God calls to us so often, so many times to come follow Him.  But we often pay no attention to his call and decide our own way.  When we persist in going it alone, we create problems for ourselves that will eventually destroy us.

The rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.  That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way.  They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen.   For they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death.  They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them.  -Proverbs 1:30-32

But the alternative, for those that follow the instruction of God, who follow the path of Jesus, who read their Bible and learn the Wisdom that God has placed in those pages, the alternative for them is far better.

But all who listen to me will live in peace and safety, unafraid of harm.   -Proverbs  1:33

That path sounds much better to me….


A Trip Through Proverbs – Catch up on the rest of the series.

  1. Introduction
  2. Acquire Wisdom
  3. Parents, Your Children are Watching
  4. Sin is Enticing

 

 

A Trip Through Proverbs – #4 – Sin is Enticing

OK ,everyone admit it; sin is enticing.  Sin is often a quick way to prosperity or to make us feel like “one of the crowd.”    It’s easy to fall into that trap over and over again, even though you know it’s not the right thing to do….you just can’t stop.  The sin soon becomes your master, it controls you completely even as you know you are sinning and try to escape.

The law is good, then.  The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master.  I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do the very thing I hate.  I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good.  But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.   – Romans 7:14-17

Paul had the same struggles that we face every day.   Paul, used by God to spread the good news to the world, struggled with sin daily just like you and I.  Sin, no matter how attractive, is deadly.

Don’t go along with them, my child!  Stay far away from their paths.  They rush to commit crimes.  They hurry to commit murder.   When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away.  But not these people!  They set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives!  Such is the fate of all who are greedy for gain.  It ends up robbing them of life.  – Proverbs 1:15-19

We don’t want to end up like that, but we will when we let sin entice us.  We must learn to make choices, not on the basis of appeal or short-term pleasure, but in view of the long-range consequences.   We may have to steer clear of people who entice us into committing sin.  We may have to give up the “guilty pleasures” that by their very name, convey that sin is involved.  Don’t surround ourselves with the temptations….remove ourselves from those situations.  We can’t be friendly with sin and expect our lives to remain unaffected.

Great news though….through Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.  -Romans 8:1,2

Without Jesus we would have no hope at all.  But thank God,  He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin.  God gives us the power to do his will and be free from sin.

Today I pray that I can begin my week with a new joy and freedom.  Jesus is bearing the burden that I once carried.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.  -Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus frees me from my burdens of sin, my burdens of stress and worry and has replaced them with love, healing and peace with God.   Amen!!   What a great promise to reflect on each morning.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #3 – Parents, Your Children are Watching

The importance of the parents are paramount in the upbringing of a child.  Your children are always watching no matter what their age.  Even as a grown adult with children of my own, I still watch and learn from my parents.  Children are told;

Listen, my child, to what your father teaches you.  Don’t neglect your mother’s teaching.  What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.  -Proverbs 1:8,9

What are the children learning when they watch their parents?  The learn values, morals and priorities by observing how their parents act and react every day.    I look at my children and see mini-me’s in them every day.  In their mannerisms, in their actions and reactions, in the way they carry themselves everyday — it’s all reflective of and a combination of both their parents.  It’s quite humbling and a bit scary that you are on display each and every day.  They will learn how to deal in relationships, handle conflict or trials, work ethic, sense of humor….they learn so much.

They also learn how to honor God.  Do you have a deep reverence and dependence on God?  Your children will pick up on those attitudes.  Let them see you worship, let them see you read your Bible.  Let them see you pray….all these things help shape their own attitudes towards God.  Let them see what is important in your life and they will often share the same values.

Your children are watching your every move, whether you realize it or not.  Take care to be sure they are learning the right things.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #2 – Acquire Wisdom

wisdom-large-3We can all gain knowledge.  Especially in this day and age, knowledge is everywhere.  I can within minutes look up any topic and discover all the knowledge I’d want to know about it.  Wisdom however is scarce.

Only fools despise wisdom….  – Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is the ability to gain knowledge of what is true and then couple that with the judgement to take action on that knowledge.

However, there is a difference between earthly wisdom and the wisdom from God.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, ‘God catches those who think they are wise in their own cleverness.’   And again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are worthless.’  – 1 Corinthians 3:19-20

So we shouldn’t look to the world for our wisdom, but look to God and his Word.

If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  – James 1:5

The practical discernment that wisdom entails begins with respect for God, leads to right living, and results in the increased ability to tell right from wrong.  God will give us this wisdom if our goals are not self-centered.  We should be God-centered.   To learn God’s will, just read his Word and ask him to show how to obey it.  Then take action and do what he tells us.

A Trip Through Proverbs – #1 – Introduction

proverbsI love the book of Proverbs.  It is probably the clearest book in the entire Bible in regards to understanding.  It comes right out and tells you how you should and shouldn’t act, what you should and shouldn’t do.  There is so much wisdom in there, but I’ve not heard many pastors preach about it on Sunday mornings.  I’ve been thinking about doing a little series of posts that go through Proverbs and pull out items that catch my eye and expand on them for quite some time.  As I was coming up with topics for a new post, I felt it was time to start that series.

Right from the start, we learn what the purpose of the book of Proverbs is.

The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings.  -Proverbs 1:2

It couldn’t get much clearer than that.  So what can we expect to learn through these proverbs?

Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just and fair.  -Proverbs 1:3

So we know the purpose and what we will learn, but who are they meant for?

These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever.  They will give knowledge and purpose to young people.  Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.  And let those who understand receive guidance by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings and riddles.  -Proverbs 1:4-6

So they are basically for everyone.  Solomon did not leave anyone out of those who can benefit from these proverbs (or by extension, the wisdom in all of the Bible.)  So that includes all of us!

So why?  Why do we need this wisdom, why do we need to dive deeper?

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.  -Proverbs 1:7

Well there you go.  We learn these things because the Lord wants us.  The fear of God, sounds like an awful thing.  But it’s not, it’s a deep sign of love and respect and willingness (in fact deep need) to obey.

I’m actually looking forward to this as I know I will learn a ton from a deeper dive into the Proverbs.  Stay tuned!