One man with one woman is God’s plan for marriage. Unfortunately sin entered the world- as told in Genesis 3. That event set in motion a very detrimental behavior pattern that continues to reap consequences today especially for marriage. Here is the key passage describing this event.
Gen3:5-7 “ For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
As you read this passage notice what the sin was that entered the world and mankind. “You will be like God” is the sin that all mankind struggles with. Our desire to do our own thing or what pleases us is what destroys God’s perfect plan of blessing in every area of life. This desire is usually expressed in one of three ways- trying to control all of life, wanting to set standards of behavior and judge by them, and seeking for praise and approval apart from God.
Adam and Eve immediately started to do their own thing after this event. They started acting like they were God. That action got them expelled from the garden and began a life of toil and turmoil. Genesis 4 follows with murder, bigamy, idolatry. Sin passed to all mankind because of Adam’s sin.
Rom.5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—“
Fast forward to today and what do we see. Divorce is rampant and immorality is widespread. Tell someone who wants to marry his boyfriend or her girlfriend that it is wrong and you are called a hater or worse. Man wants to be God and do their own thing!
2Tim. 3:1-5 describes our day “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded , lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:”
We may face dangerous, perilous times but, thank God, He chose us to live now. Next time I’ll discuss the solution and what our commentary today should sound like.
With all the turmoil regarding marriage today, I thought I’d post some thoughts regarding this God given institution. Here are some key bible verses found in the new and old testament:
Gen. 2:24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
Eph. 5:31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two united into one.”
In Genesis this scripture comes right after the creation of woman from Adam’s side. In order to comply with God’s plan, a man and a woman are to form a family through marriage. Also note that the bible says a man leaves father and mother implying again that it takes a man and a woman to form a family through marriage.
Here are a couple of reasons for the marriage sacrament.
Gen.1:28 God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.”
Other translations say be fruitful and multiply. Clearly procreation is part of the reason for marriage. That purpose is impossible if a marriage is two people of the same sex. God’s plan is to populate the Earth with His special creation having babies after marriage.
Eph. 5:28-29 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church.
Another reason for marriage is to show the world how much Jesus Christ loves them. This scripture comes right after a lengthy discourse on how a husband is to love his wife and a wife is to respect her husband and how God treats His beloved church.
Marriage is a picture of how much God loves mankind and desires an intimate relationship with us. It is a gift that helps us lead a joyful and fulfilled life. It’s no wonder there is so much opposition to biblical marriage. I’ll write more as to how God’s gift and plan got messed up in future blogs
How do you pray for people in need? We often pray that God will deliver them out of their needs.
Have we ever prayed like Paul does in Ephesians 1:17-20?
He prays for these things:
1. That God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Why?
2. So that we would know the HOPE we have of a glorious inheritance in the future.
3. So that we would know the POWER we have for the present situation.
I am praying differently. It sounds like this,
“Lord, I care about my friend who has this need.
I want them to be delivered from the financial, physical or relational pain.
I don’t want them to feel the pain.
However, I ask that You will give them the Spirit of wisdom and reveal Yourself to them.
Let them come to know You better because of this need.
Show them the HOPE they can have for the future.
They are experiencing pain now.
I ask that they begin to see that their ultimate hope is living with You in Your painless presence forever.
I also pray that they will experience your present POWER for their current need.
Remind them of Your power that raised Jesus from the dead.
They have the same power available to them for this need.”
Hope for the future and Power for the present.
What a great way to pray for people.
Oswald Chambers says, “The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission.
It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances;
we are developed because of them.
It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them.”
Are you in a fiery furnace today? It could be financial, physical, relational, or emotional.
How are you dealing with it? How do we get that mastery?
One way is by trusting in the very presence of God.
We don’t go through times of suffering alone.
God wants us to allow them to draw us closer to Him and experience His love.
What was the last promise Jesus gave to His men and to us?
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
The Lord was with Joseph…”his master (Potiphar) saw that the Lord was with him.”
“Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison…But the Lord was with Joseph.”
Genesis 39:2-3, 20-23
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
No matter what you: face – fear – or fight – He is with you.
He is with you actively, not passively.
He will give strength, power, help, courage, comfort and victory.
What are you facing today? He is with you and will go through it with you.
You are not alone – ever!
Call upon Him, Come to Him, Cry out to Him, Collapse upon Him,Crash upon Him, and Count upon Him.
As a Good shepherd He is with His sheep all night long.
Worship In The Heat
I had the opportunity of serving the Lord as a pastor in Arizona. I believe the Lord gave me the spiritual gift of teaching. It was fun to prepare and preach sermons. I could preach Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night.
However, Discipleship was woefully neglected. Why? I had no idea how to do it or what materials to use. People came to meet with me with various needs. I was lost with no rudder to guide me.
Several years later I discovered the discipleship materials produced by VCLi. I wanted to yell – Eureka!! I saw that I could still use my gift of teaching only now it could be guided in an excellent format. I didn’t think I could disciple someone in a one-on-one context. Now I had a rudder, a guide. God has used the SALT books to guide me to disciple many people with a variety of needs.
They have also been a primary tool to challenge me in my walk with God. I have learned the source of my negative emotions as I try to play God. Walking after the flesh is happening less frequently now. I know how to forgive others and do it quickly. My wife and I now have a clear way to enhance our communication.
It has been delightful to see how God uses these 7 books to help people in all areas of life. One man said, "It is amazing. When I have a problem or struggle all I have to do is study the next lesson and I get the answer." He said this as he was banging his head with the book for emphasis!
Now when I meet with someone I have a treasure of truth based on God’s Word that I can share. I encourage you to check out the SALT books and see how God could use them in your ministry.
James the brother of Jesus is acknowledged to be the author of the book of James. In it we read in chapter 2 verse 17:
Thus also faith, by itself, If it does not have works, is dead.
In the book of Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 we read:
But without faith it is impossible to please God.
These two verses are not at odds. One tells me that if I am to be pleasing to God I do so by exhibiting faith in Him, and the other says that He will know my faith by what I do for the Kingdom. I am convinced that faith lived out is not just observable by God but man sees it
and it is generally appreciated.
As we observe history we see believers throughout the years exhibiting great faith through their works. Let me site some of my favorites.
William Wilberforce climbed the political mountain in England and with great perseverance over 20 years ended the slave trade in England. He also exhibited great compassion for animals and has been credited with starting the SPCA.
Paul the Apostle showed his faith as a believer in prison. In the book of Acts chapter 16 verses 16 through 34 a story unfolds of magnificent faith. Paul and Silas find themselves in the dirtiest and worst part of the prison. They were exhibiting great faith as they sang songs and prayed to God at the midnight hour. The story tells us that the fellow prisoners were listening. All of a sudden there was a great earthquake, and all the prison gates were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
The prisoners could have escaped without any problem. The jailer ran into the prison expecting to see that they all had left and he was prepared to fall on his sword but Paul cried out don’t do it we are all still here! What was it that Paul and Silas did to make prisoners who could have escaped stay? I am convinced it was their expressed faith as they prayed and sang, rather than complain and cry, that this mesmerized the other prisoners to the point that they did not leave. The outcome is that the jailer and his family came to faith in Christ through the magnificent faith of Paul and Silas.
I recently took a trip to India where I met the most amazing husband and wife. It was the last day we would be in Manguru, India and they had just spent three days in our SALT Marriage Conference. They requested a time to meet and pray for us. Their leader, Bishop Jacob, made the introduction but prior to the meeting Bishop Jacob told us a story. This couple pastor a village church. When the husband became a Christian he began exhibiting great faith. He began evangelizing his village. The radical Hindu leaders came to him and told him to stop this immediately or face the consequences. He did not stop and they both faced the consequences.
Threats turned into action and the radical Hindus came to their home in the village and beat them and left them for dead. They found the pastor’s father hiding under a bed and them jumped on the bed crushing him and they left him for dead as well. The villagers were frightened but God saw a different ending. He not only brought the husband and wife out of their life threatening injuries He healed the father. The villagers saw the miracle and because these people exhibited great faith by their actions a church has grown and flourished in that village. Today they are making plans to build a new church that will house the 350 new believers.
History is replete with men and women of faith who have exhibited courage and integrity in the face of great danger. Some have been martyred, given their very lives for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I reflect about these saints I always look into the mirror of my life and ask this question, “Ray would you be willing to give your life for the Gospel”? Let me ask you – how about you?
A common issue among young women I disciple is the belief that in order to be happy they need to find a husband, a man who will meet their needs and fulfill their expectations. This focus is not only self-centered and unrealistic, but it blinds them to the joys of the life they currently have and leaves them feeling frustrated and depressed. It is also an affront to the Lord who loves them and longs to have an intimate relationship with them.
Having been single, married, and single again after the death of my husband, I can speak from personal experience that what makes both singleness and marriage happy is a close relationship with the Lord where He meets our needs and pours His love into us and through us to others.
Pastor and author Chip Ingram says this,
If you must be completed by another person, you will find that whatever they have to give you will never be enough. Only God, through His Son and through the Holy Spirit, can provide what each of us needs to be complete. When we are whole and secure in Him, then we can approach a relationship in a healthy way.
In a devotional entitled “Satisfied Singleness” Steve Arterburn says,
No matter what your situation, God’s will for you right now is to be satisfied in Him, and to trust His plan for you at this time in your life.
God created us for relationship, first with Him and then with those He brings into our lives. If marriage is a part of His plan for us, we can trust Him to get us ready and to bring the one He’s chosen for us, in His time. In the meantime, we can enjoy His love and share a meaningful life with Him.
I recently spoke at a women’s retreat. The title of the retreat was “Reflections of God’s Beauty”.
I Peter 3:3-4 says; Don’t be concerned about outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
To have a gentle and quiet spirit, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him our spirits are dead and our hearts are hard. He brings life to our spirit and gives us a new heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
So, if beauty comes from within, it has much to do with the condition of our heart.
Jerwmiah 29:13 says: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. When our hearts are filled with hurt, resentment, bitterness, and/or unforgiveness, it’s cluttered and we cannot seek God with all our hearts and are NOT able to be a true reflection of God’s Beauty.
So, what is in your heart today that you need to eliminate in order to reflect God’s Beauty? Maybe you have a need to forgive someone, repent from holding on to a sinful habit, or maybe you are withholding love from someone God has placed in your life that isn’t so easy to love. Be bold before the Lord today and pray: Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. Be a reflection of God’s beauty today.
In honor of National Marriage Month in February, we are dedicating this blog to marriages. The VCLi SALT curriculum has some excellent lessons on the topic of marriage. There is even a pre-marriage counseling course that will soon be available on the web.
Actually all the VCLi SALT lessons can apply to marriages. Marriage is the place where we are often tested in our commitment to live for God. Check out the material on marriage.
Here is one pastor’s story.
“I remember frequently saying from the pulpit ‘If you want the perfect marriage, just copy my wife and me. We have the perfect marriage!’ As I was sharing those words my wife would be thinking ‘God if he would just die, my life would be much better’.
Marriage was perfect for him because his controlling leadership style and his wife’s people pleasing tendencies always produced what he wanted. Because she never shared how she was really feeling; he was oblivious of her loneliness and unhappiness in their relationship.
This is their testimony today:
“We can’t imagine life without each other today. Every year we grow more and more in love.”
As they started applying the biblical principles they had always known and even taught, their married lives changed for the better. He doesn’t describe his marriage as perfect anymore and she has learned to share her thoughts, feelings, and desires without fear.
That reaction is what makes SALT a life changing tool. SALT is an appeal to change the way you think. When our thinking really lines up with God’s word, we will change the way we act and respond accordingly.
They have always been devoted to God but now they also share their souls as well as their bodies with each other. They accept their family roles as the husband being a loving leader and a wife being a loving support.
They are achieving intimacy spiritually, psychologically, and physically.
Below is a summary of the initial marriage teaching from SALT.
You were created as a three-part being – spirit, soul, and body. God designed marriage to bring intimacy in all three parts. When a couple’s spirits are devoted to God, they experience spiritual intimacy. When their souls understand each other, they experience psychological intimacy. Physical intimacy creates closeness
While men generally focus on physical intimacy, women tend to focus on psychological intimacy. God’s plan is that we focus on all three parts of our being.
Here are some tips for maintaining Spiritual Intimacy which produce greater devotion to God and each other:
- Pray together
- Read the bible and talk about it with each other
- Attend and serve at church together
- Do bible studies and devotionals together-SALT is and excellent tool for doing this
Here are some tips for maintaining Psychological Intimacy which produce understanding of each other:
- Make time for talking
- Share what you think about, how you feel (emotions), and what you want or desire
- Tell your spouse things you appreciate about them
- Always avoid negative and cutting remarks
Here are some tips for enhancing Physical Intimacy:
- Give Hugs
- Hold Hands
- Make yourself as attractive as possible for your spouse
- Ask your spouse what kind of physical intimacy they prefer and think of each other as more important than self
- Remember sex is for marriage only
Ephesians 4:31-32 is an excellent scripture to practice in a marriage relationship.
“Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others (like your spouse) should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Living Bible)
Our prayer for you is that if you are struggling in your marriage, God will draw you nearer to Himself and reveal His word in your life. If you have a good marriage, that God’s word will make it great. And if you want to be married, that God will become your provision as you wait on Him.