Monday, June 2, 2014

Building a Marriage that Goes the Distance

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At Community Christian Church                                                                        Sunday morning, June 1, 2014

Proverbs 5:15-23, “Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman,
And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He ponders all his paths.
His own iniquities entrap the wicked man,
And he is caught in the cords of his sin.
He shall die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.”

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

The month of June is traditionally the month of weddings.  And with that in mind, as we begin this month, I’d like to bring to you a message entitled, “Building a Marriage That Goes the Distance.”

Before we crack open this important subject, I’d like to point you in the direction of some of my favorite marriage and family relationship resources, in hopes that you will benefit from them as much as my wife and my family and I have benefitted from them. 

How many of you listen to the radio?  Six very helpful radio programs, sponsored by 6 important marriage and family ministries I heartily endorse:

o   Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey
o   Life, Love and Family with Dr. Tim Clinton
o   Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson
o   Focus on the Family with Jim Daly
o   Revive our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss
o   Hope for the Heart with June Hunt

If you are in the habit of listening to the radio, tune in 91.1 FM, station KAYC and enjoy these shows.  However, if you’re not a radio person, dial up these ministries websites for loads of resources, many of them available for listening and / or viewing online. I highly recommend them for you – your marriage and your family.

Building a Marriage that Will Go the Distance!  In case you haven’t noticed, there are many marriages – many marriages – yes, even among Christians, that AREN’T going the distance. You know the statistics.  And they aren’t pretty.

Worse yet are the waves – the newer trends that are sweeping over many, even in the church.

Co-habitation.  That’s the sanitized word for it.  Used to be called “shacking up”.  But now it’s widely accepted, even recommended.  Yes, even among Christians.

Then there’s the latest morphing of God’s design – the twenty- and thirty-somethings call it, “Friends with Benefits.” No commitment.  No expectations of commitment.  But plenty of opportunities for sexual activity.

Then, of course, there’s what some have called the “Death Knell” to Biblical marriage – the complete re-definition of marriage and family, manhood and womanhood, husband and father and wife and mother by the homosexual movement.

To say the least, marriage (at least as God originally designed and intended it) marriage, as an institution set up by God Himself, is in trouble. “On the ropes,” as they say in boxing, and almost “down for the count.”

So, is there any hope for this dilemma?  Any way out of the deep, deep hole?  I believe there is.  I really do.  And it begins with you – and you, and you and me in our marriages.  One couple at a time, asking God to show us, to strengthen us and to instill in us a desire, a thirst, a zeal for a marriage as He intends it. For a marriage that will go the distance!

For starters, allow me to state the obvious:  there really are only TWO ways for marriage.  In actuality, there are ONLY two paths one can take with respect to this most intimate of human relationships.  Did you know that? 

I caught a slice of that great Biblical theologian, Whoopi Goldberg and company last week on their show THE VIEW last week.  And guess what the subject was?  You guessed it.  Marriage.  And yet, strangely, I didn’t see or hear anything like what I read to you a moment ago from Proverbs and the Book of Hebrews!  No!

Oh, they gave their view alright.  But listen!  The view from THE VIEW will hurt you!  Promoting all the destructive “-isms.”  Materialism.  Hedonism.  Relativism.  Each of which stem from ME-ism.  These are the views about marriage, and the way being promoted for marriage, by “The View”, and practically every other talk show, sitcom or feature movie on television.  The same is true for the big screen, and so on.  You already knew that, didn’t you?  So, why do we continue to imbibe in these things?  Why would we invite these termites to eat away at our marriages and families?

The view from “The View” will hurt you!  As Proverbs says it, “There is a way that SEEMS right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death!”

But, listen!  There is another way.  A better way.  Surely, you know which way I’m talking about, don’t you?

GOD’S way.  That’s the other way.  God’s way.  That’s the better way! The prophet Jeremiah records in Jeremiah 6:16 an encounter he had with the very voice of God, as God brought Jeremiah and his people to one of those critical fork-in-the-road moments.  The LORD said to the prophet, “Stand in the ways and look.”  You know, before you go any further down the road set forth by “The View,” stop and consider: where is that road heading?

Where will my marriage, my family, and my life end up if I continue down THAT road?  “Stand in the way and look.”  Stop. Evaluate.  Then, what?  The “ASK.”  Yes, that’s what God told Jeremiah and the Israelites to do.  Ask, “What other paths are there?”  Ask, “Is there a better way?”

Guess what answer comes back from heaven above?  “There IS – there IS – a better way.  The good way.  The way I designed for you in your marriage.  THIS is the way!  Walk in it!”

God’s way.  It is the better way!  Always has been.  Always will be.  How do I know that?  Well, we’re talking about building, aren’t we? Building a marriage that will go the distance, right?

What is it that makes God’s way a better way?  Well, first, it begins with a Better Builder – a Better Builder.  Solomon, who knew a little bit about marriage, and a little bit about building, but it this way in Psalm 127, verse 1:  “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it!

Building a marriage that will go the distance begins with a Better Builder, the Architect of the galaxies, the stars and the planets.  The Engineer behind the intricacies of DNA genetic code!

You want a marriage that will go the distance?  Allow Him to build it!  Building a marriage that will go the distance BEGINS with a Better Builder1

Second, building a marriage that will go the distance requires a Better Blueprint than the one guiding so many today!  In essence, we were talking about that Better Blueprint just a moment ago.

“This is the way.” [Hold up the Bible].  This is the better Blueprint.  Walk in it!  Build your marriage in keeping with it! 

Certainly, not every verse or passage found in this Book has direct, or maybe even indirect connection with marriage and family relationships.  But, listen.  If we would simply abide by what this teaches about the godly use of our words, our tongues, and the proper approach to expressing and controlling our emotions…listen!  I know!  I know every marriage and every family in this building would be strengthened and blessed if each of us followed and obeyed just the bible verses about emotions and about the tongue.

Building marriage that will last requires a Better Builder and a Better Blueprint.

It also requires a Better Foundation – a Better Foundation.  Unfortunately, the foundation that many a marriage that didn’t go the distance, or doesn’t look like it will go the distance – was a faulty one, one filled with cracks and breaks right from the start. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that there is no other REALlasting foundation that can be laid than the one God lays when He builds a marriage.  And that foundation is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

He’ll make me happy.”  “I want her body.”  “I’ve gotta get away from home at all costs.”  “We’ll each give our fair share.  You know, 50 / 50, and it will work.  And if it doesn’t…well, we’ll just get a divorce.”  Those foundations – all of them – are shaky.  Unstable.  And unable to bear up under the load that married life undoubtedly will include.

If you want to build a marriage that will last, you must begin with a better – and always solid and stable foundation:  Jesus Christ.

Then what?  Better Builder, Better Blueprint, Better Foundation.  Then what?

Here’s where the work begins, right?  Even with a Better Builder, Blueprint and Foundation, you and I have our part.  I mean, to go the DISTANCE not the sprint to the first anniversary, which is more often than not propelled by the excitement and momentum of the wedding celebration.  But at mile markers like 5 and 10 and 20 and 40 and 50 years, and the crisis points, the Purification and Refinement Points that usually go with those mile marker, things like job changes and miscarriages; toughies like financial reversals and messy diapers; stretchers and stressors like the loss of parents and the empty nest - cancer, heart attacks, retirement, and even planning a funeral.

A marriage that goes the distance must also be built using several essential pillars, firmly positioned according to the Better Blueprint directed by the Better Builder on the Better Foundation.  The first of these pillars, the one we are going to focus on today is the one I call exclusivity.  Exclusivity.  Proverbs 5:15-18 – Read those verses again with me, will you?

Proverbs 5:15 – 18, “Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.”

This first pillar of a marriage that goes the distance has everything to do with an important concept found throughout Scripture – that concept is the one I call “Holy Jealousy,” “Righteous Jealousy”.  And it’s one that, in fact, goes both ways.  Solomon wrote, “Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well…”  The first emphasis is that the joys and delights, the benefits and blessings of marriage as far as you are concerned are to be found, looked for, not in someone ELSE’s spouse, but in your spouse, your husband, or your wife.  Why?  Because marriage, according to the Better Blueprint, has a built-in exclusive aspect to it.

Now, flip the coin over, and notice the same thing, but from the other angle.  “Drink water from your own cistern, your own well…”  Hey, listen, Mister!  Stop making eyes at my wife, because after all, she’s mine, not yours!  Same goes for the wives and other women’s flirtations with their husbands! [Who is flirting with whom?] Listen, folks, this is not the description of some middle school CRUSH!  Not the me-centered tirade of a Junior Higher!  No!  This is the voice of mature love!  “He’s mine!  She’s mine!”  And, nobody else’s….

You know something?  There’s a sense of security and of protection given to the marriage by this pillar of exclusivity, wouldn’t you say?  Harm is prevented and health is promoted.  Not only that, but there is, for all who build their marriages utilizing this pillar – exclusivity – there is a huge opportunity for enhancing and strengthening the marriage!  I mean, if the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” appeal is off the table, and understood for what it is: an enticement to sin and to end up with nothing more than a belly full of brown weeds, then listen, the door to strengthen & enhance the marriage you do have is wide open to you!  It is! 

But remember, it requires work on your part, and growth, not stagnation in your relationship!  So, how do you go about it?  Two quick insights, and then we must close: You know him – your husband.  You know her – your wife.  But do you know everything there is to know about your spouse?  There’s Assignment #1:  Friday night, supper at Chili’s together, with a list of at least 5 ‘get-to-know-you-better’ questions! Get to know your spouse BETTER – why?  Because it’s the only well God has given you to drink from.  She’s yours, get to know her better.  He’s yours, give him a chance.  I mean 15 minutes, 5 minutes, where he talks and you do nothing but listen!  Get to know him better. 

Then, Assignment #2 – Fellows, your responsibility, in a world filled with other ‘wells’ and other ‘cisterns’, is to let your “well” know. I mean, SAY IT TO HER: “I’m not look anywhere else for a drink!  I’m looking to you!”  And, ladies, here’s your part, your responsibility: make sure that you are NOT appealing or even considering the idea of appealing to anyone else, but him!  Don’t let even a drop of the water from your husband’s well – your husband’s well – be spent on any other man! 

Building a marriage that will go the distance.  We’ve got more to learn here, but for now we must close.  Let’s pray. 

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