We are going to look at some of the most basic things that marriage is supposed to be, and accomplish in our day-to-day lives because everything God designed marriage to be, and to accomplish is not only, no longer even a priority in many relationships, it is breaking all the rules and expectations of society today. (It's being "Partners in crime!") If you know Scriptures are real, and God is real, then you know where marriage originated; why we have it today. If not for God's plan, marriage would not even make much sense in our culture. So, if marriage is going to work, shouldn't it be for the reasons, and priorities that God ordained? And not us?
In practicality, let's go to the deepest core of marriage that creates a world together as God intended, and briefly discuss how it should play out in our lives, then, work through the different layers of a marriage that work as God designed C) Christ as the Center: Matthew 10:37, Romans 73:25. Many Scriptures make it clear that our love and devotion for Christ should be light years beyond our love for anyone else. We’ve already looked at how loving Christ, and getting our value and worth from Him alone gives us strength and confidence to love our spouses through imperfection, and even rejection, and our knowledge of Christ's mercy and forgiveness helps us to do the same for our spouses. Ephesians 5:22-24, 31-32: Paul tells wives to be completely given to their husbands, and husbands to live completely for their wives. Do you notice the complete singular devotion in those commands? He ends the verses with the reminder that they are to forsake everyone else for this relationship as they become one, just as Christ gave up everything, for the sake of our relationship with Him. This is another major way we need to use the example of Christ and the church as our basis for marriage, and this generation has suffered horribly for not doing it. When you join with another in marriage—you leave all others for them, and you live first and foremost for them—above all else. That means you put them above your previous family—in pleasing, supporting, defending. That means you put them above your children—never favoring or siding with a child over your spouse (unless, there is abuse or breaking God's Commands); never disrespecting or hurting your spouse in front of children, teaching your children what it means to give honor to another over self, by how you treat your spouse; that means you put them above your work or hobbies—if your pursuit of money or advancement has caused you to neglect your spouse, if you have temptation for another in your workplace, if your work somehow hurts or divides you from your spouse—change it. That means you put them above BFF's, and the guys (or gals). Literally live your life, with the conscious effort to place your spouse first above all other people and things in your life—just as Christ did for the Church. Because, the world is wrong, two people coexisting, as they live separate lives, has never been the Plan. Two people putting each other first, over everyone and everything in life, in pursuit of one life, one purpose, and one direction together is the goal. Your spouse comes before family, kids, career, and friends. O) One In Christ: Matthew 19:4-6. (without going into all the details and verses for sake of time) No one has the right to think about leaving a marriage without very specific reasons in Scriptures: Death (1 Corinthians 7:39), Infidelity (Matthew 19:9), an unbeliever leaves, and you could not stop them (1 Corinthians 7:15). In the times you don't feel that you have a reason to stay anymore, and you think you are getting nothing back for all of your work—those are the only times that real love is tested and proven; those are the times that make or break your marriage, not the easy times; those are the times that reveal where your heart really was all along—focused on self, or them; those are the times that will strengthen your marriage, and bring you closer as you work through them, or will drive you apart forever. (Emily Giffen) Learn your spouse as well as you know yourself: 1 Peter 3:7 (gnosis: knowledge). Be closer to your spouse, and more responsible for your spouse than any other person on earth; learn their wants, passions, fears, likes, dislikes, and even sins better than anyone—pray for them, work to please them, help them reach their goals and face their fears, love them through their imperfections when others don’t. Knowing your spouse, also requires that you learn their attitude, disposition, and expression of love because it may very well be different than yours (Words, Touch, Giving, Serving, Quality Time)—one of the greatest ways we fail to show or feel love is when we don't recognize our mate's way of showing—loving someone is deeply understanding their way of reaching out in love, and their special way of needing to be loved in return: watch them, ask them, learn them. When you don't, "feel like you are loved", see if maybe you really are, but, in their special way, not yours. Becoming one, and working to understand your mate also means that an argument is not a time to just win a fight, but a time to understand. Your goal is to understand your spouse deeply, and reach a point of agreement. [Remember LUVR: Listen (no interruption) to words, emotions, fears, passion; Understand (don’t stop until you understand why they feel the way they do) (you don’t have to agree, just understand and appreciate their feelings); Validate (explain back to them what you think they are saying and feeling) (so thy realize you see their feelings and beliefs); Respond in love (respond with your own opinion afterwards—making the goal to express why you feel or think this way not why you are right). Then reach an agreement, with someone conceding to the other’s desires or lovingly agree to disagree.] Becoming one and understanding your mate means that you are everything to one another sexually; you guard your thoughts and desires for them only: Matthew 5:28. (That doesn't mean to appreciate an attractive person is sin; it means to desire them, mentally have them, think about them as an object of your passion and desire is sin because you can, and do, train your mind sexually in what excites you.)You have promised your desires to your spouse, so keep them centered there; you will be surprised how much more exciting your spouse becomes to you, when they become your exclusive focus of desire and fantasy. Another absolutely beautiful thing about God's view of becoming one—of giving yourself completely to your mate—is the incredible way God means for us to express this sexually. His Word says that when we marry, we become one so completely, that our bodies no longer even belong to ourselves but to our mates. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 [said at a time when men had complete rule in culture] It is our promised obligation, and should be our desire to be there for our spouse’s needs; to be their every desire (since we are to be the only one they desire); to be as physically, mentally and emotionally exciting as we can to them because to expect them to be faithful to you only; and with that knowledge, not care if you are appealing or satisfying, is wrong. Lastly, to embrace everything this incredibly powerful creation of God was meant to be—letting it be filled with the awe of honoring, loving, and pleasing your spouse as the sole object of your desire, not as something you have to do in obligation, and not demanding anything unwanted due to fears or abuse. Four questions when uncertain sexually: Biblical? Harmful? Both desire? In love? R) Raising Children: Psalm 127:3. We seem to forget what an unfathomable gift it is that we can have part in the creation of another human being who is eternal; who is a combination of us, and our best friend, in the image of God. We are so apathetic about this miracle, we can be deceived into aborting such a precious gift, or into putting a higher priority on status of living, our number of toys, our vocational success, or our social image in the eyes of a fallen world that doesn't even care for a short time over the priority placed on the very soul of an eternal child of God, who depends on us alone for their direction in life: Deuteronomy 6:7, Joshua 24:15. Let me ask you some thought provoking questions based on God's Plan for families, and how they differ from the world in which we now live: When will the family ever be the main focus of marriages again? When will raising our own children, be more important than having enough money to spoil them to uselessness and ruin their character? When will staying with your family be more important than your temporary fun and lust? Proverbs 3:12, Proverbs 29:15, Romans 13:1-2. When will our goals and tactics around raising children return to teaching them humility, respect, discipline, self-denial, and love for others over being the best at all costs, over how the world should center around them, over pride in how they are better than others, over not having to respect authority, over reaching their goals whatever it costs others? The most world changing, infinitely important job over anything vocational in this world, is how we love and grow our family, but we have allowed Satan and this world to make it something we do on the side, if at all, while we focus on big careers and more stuff; or while we teach them to focus on self and fun so often, they are lost in selfishness and weakness; or while we leave in search of a good time elsewhere, and let someone else to raise our child altogether. We have bought the lie that raising a family is a troublesome, lowly job, when in fact, it is the heart of our civilization, and our future. There are so many single-parents having to struggle to survive and many other families that must have two incomes to even make it, the way our economy is designed today, but, there are also many who simply want to work to have excess, or to have their careers and a family too. None of these circumstances allows us to sidestep God's ordained responsibility to raise our children in discipline and humbleness. No matter how little time we get with them, or how exciting and fun we want that time to be, we need to make teaching our children about humbly serving Christ and serving others, the absolute priority in their lives. That means taking the time to live it with them; having the character to let them spend some time learning to give back to the family and serve others, rather than spending every second together in search of what the world offers in entertainment. E) Evangelize the World. When choosing a future husband or wife, or when getting serious about God in an existing marriage, one of the single-most important things to ask one another is: Does God have first place in their lives? (Not just, do they believe); and what do they feel is their calling from God? How are they serving, or preparing to serve Him with their lives? Because, becoming one with another, should enhance what we can do for Christ, not bring it to a crawl or stop it altogether. Recognize and support one another's calling to serve Christ. See how God has joined you to possibly serve together. Do realize, we are called to serve Him. We are not just called to chase a career; we are not even called, just to cater to and live for the family; we are called to serve Him first and foremost. Is a major part of your relationship how you serve together and support one another in loving Christ? Being in a Christ-centered relationship with your spouse and raising a Christ-centered family—all are incomplete without making the serving of God, centerpiece to all that we do. Do you know where you are supposed to be serving together? Are you serving together? Do your children have a clue they are called of God to serve? Are they spending time serving with you? Or simply experiencing all life can give them? As they grow more and more self-serving? (And we wonder what happened to them?)
What it all comes down to: Keep Christ as your Center and purpose individually; put your spouse first above everyone and everything in life but Christ, just as He has for you. Live sacrificially for them above self, as Christ has for you. Become One Flesh in Him—learn one other; share direction and purpose (don't just coexist); belong totally to one another sexually; accept no reason as grounds to break that oneness. Make the raising of godly, humble, respectful children a major function of your marriage, not something you do in the scraps of time left after you both pursue everything else. Don't be obsessed with making the few moments you have all about fun; don't feel they need extra grace and room to express themselves because they are children of divorce. Evangelize as a team, make serving God together one of the biggest parts of your relationship; one of the biggest parts of training your children. Loving one another in a Godly marriage today requires that you be, "Partners in Crime" according to the social customs in which we live. Are you ready to serve the sentence together? Pray together for direction on where to start, where to change.
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