Today we are going to cover an area of our lives which Satan uses to stop our walk with Jesus—dead in it's tracks and often keep our entire daily lives in defeat and misery—while we live our lives in unsuspecting ignorance that it’s him all along. Satan and his entire hoard work skillfully and passionately to trip us up, steal or joy, and make us completely useless to God. One of the biggest and most successful battlefields which Satan is absolutely destroying us on today is in our marriages and intimate relationships.
We won't even waste our time looking over the statistics of rising cohabitation, divorce rates, and multiple remarriages in society today—everyone has heard them enough—and everyone has seen and felt the effects in their lives from these stats without hearing them again. Stats aside, right here in this room, and in the lives of those touching our own, is the reality of so much hidden pain, suffering, loneliness, anxiety, fear and depression from broken and struggling marriages or relationships. And sadly, for many, when the single-most important person living on earth is a source of pain or insecurity, there is a loss of priority and focus on anything else around you, and a deep hole that stays with you constantly which handicaps your relationship and usefulness to God at best, and often makes it completely non-existent. Because you become absorbed in your pain and problems and your heart loses focus on the things of God. Like many of Satan's ploys, we become drawn into a vicious circle with marriage. One of the secrets to why our marriages are suffering is that we don't put God in the right place. And one of the secrets to why we don't put God in the right place is because we are so consumed by our suffering marriages, leaving us to wallow in our sorrows until we self-destruct. We need to recognize the real problem and become cycle-breakers. In our current social wars, we so often want to fight for the recognition that marriage was created by God and that it should be according to His Will and Principles. And yet many of us live out our own marriages as if God's plan were the last thing we ever considered. We follow the world's plan in the, "Who, when and how" of marriage and can't seem to figure out why we are falling apart.
So, why don't we take a few moments to honestly apply God's Words to the most important relationship we have this side of Heaven and see how He can revolutionize our relationships. Awesome love doesn't "just happen" because it was meant to be, “Awesome love requires awesome effort!” And it shouldn't be any other way. It's the worth and effort given to someone we choose to love that makes it so priceless and special
If you are serious about making your marriage better, God's way is guaranteed to make a difference when applied sincerely. So, let's look at a few ways that we have followed the world's pattern for marriage. And it's up to you where things go from there. The first and biggest thing you must do to make your marriage better is to stop focusing so intently on your mate. (Yep, you heard right!) Your mate is not God, so stop treating them as if they were—in expectation they will meet your every need; in expectation they will act and live perfectly; in expectation they will love you as passionately and unconditionally as Christ—God can't and won't support your relationship when there is an idol in it. You may say, "Doug, they are the last person who would ever be considered an idol in my life!" But, the very fact that you feel that harshly about them may be because you did make them an idol and they couldn't cut it. Ask yourself this:
Is your happiness and self-esteem constantly based solely upon what they think and feel about you? Do you seek to please them even if it means breaking God's Will? Not serving God or attending church if they don't. Allowing kids to be led astray or abused. Involving yourself in ungodly behavior or habits to please them. One of the biggest mistakes we make in relationships is becoming so completely attached and reliant upon our mate, instead of God that we fall with them when they fall. We become victims of their failures and sins, and we become so lost in their problems that we cannot fulfill the very role God placed us there to fulfill: to be the one God can use to continue to show His unconditional love and acceptance even when undeserved; to be the one that chooses to love, chooses to stay, chooses to serve, when no one else is there; to be the one who lifts them up in prayer, like no one else knows how; when no one else does. These times we look for reasons to quit or leave are often the most crucial times of Your mate’s life. Instead of being there for people when they fall, often times today, we are too wrapped up in how we have been let down and done wrong to help them: Genesis 2:18 (ladies): [helper] Ephesians 5:25 (men): Does Christ give up and walk away when He has been sinned against, disappointed or unloved? 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Galatians 6:2; 1 Peter 4:8. Your marriage will never be as it should until God is at the center for both of you. Until He is the thing you are tethered to first, so that you are free and equipped to be these things for one another. Only then can we build and cultivate real, deep, true love. This is your calling in marriage. This is literally one of the biggest reasons for marriage. God is your main focus always and everything and everyone else is in your peripheral. Otherwise, you will quickly lose sight of your way. Secondly, after realizing that your mate is not God, and letting yourself pursue and rely upon Christ before your mate, realize that your primary goal as a couple is to serve Him as one. Not just build a life for yourselves together; not just have your needs met by your new help-mate; not just branch off in your own directions while you cohabitate for convenience and security: Ephesians 5:31-32. We have always taught the hierarchy is: God, spouse, family, ministry, other. But what we need to understand is that putting God first means including Him in every one of the other relationships. We have a definite calling to find our purpose and to work and support each other in ministry to God, as one. Serving together is one of the most intimate, bonding things we can do. Do you see why it is impossible for a marriage to be what God intended unless you are married to someone who loves Him as you love Him? 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Thirdly, based upon our calling into the Covenant of marriage, to deeply cherish, uphold and love one another—even and especially when undeserved—the next crucial thing to establish is that you will never entertain thoughts, or threaten the possibility of leaving one another (except possibly adultery or non-belief). Our goal is to be Christ for one another. To see something in them that is worth staying by their side no matter the cost—that is the only real love. And if your thoughts of leaving them are somewhat like, "because you feel they would be better off without you; that they should be with someone better...” Instead of abandoning them and letting them go in search of this person, why don't you focus your energy on becoming that person? It is what God called you to do, and that is the person they would deserve the most anyway—one willing to fight for them—leaving no "back door" open; having no thoughts or possibilities of ever leaving or giving up, allows your spouse to be secure and at peace, even in their failures. (That alone makes them a better spouse in return). And it let's them truly be who they are, rather than jumping through hoops in fear of losing you. Just as Christ said He did not want us to fear His Judgment in our failures, 1 John 4:18-19. Fourthly, God has given us the most amazing, intimate, bonding, special gift of sexual intimacy we could imagine, and one of the main things that makes it so incredible is the exclusivity and worth we express by sharing ourselves with only one person in this way (what an honor). The world has so cheapened and ruined this awesome gift by thinking they are expressing freedom, when in reality, they create a void which they try to fill with more and more people and perversion—because they have lost the magic of the exclusive intimacy and oneness. Don't let the world's view warp and steal your passion for your spouse. They can and will be your greatest source of interest and desire if you keep your thoughts and passions focused on them only. You cannot give your passions and thoughts to everyone else in your mind and expect your mate to remain pleasing to you.
You make yourself a miserable slave when you constantly covet what you will never have, and in return lose desire for the one that has completely given themselves to only you. You make yourself a slave when your passions are spent on self-satisfaction alone rather than showing your loved one their cherished worth in your eyes above all else—in a way only you can show them. Trust God's Word enough to place your passions on your spouse alone. Stop ruining sex and intimacy while following a blind, ignorant world, and let your passion be an expression of cherished, exclusive love and acceptance for them alone. Give the rights to your body and your mind to them alone. What an unmatchable gift: 1 Corinthians 7:4. Then watch the spark fan the flame.
And lastly be on their team. Instead of being their constant opposition, their biggest critic, the one who always sees their worst and looks down on them for it; the enemy that must be defeated; the opponent you are competing with. Let them know and feel that you are always their biggest fan—even when undeserved—be the infatuated beloved by their side; the one who is just crazy about them above all others. If, no matter what the conduct or attitude of your spouse, you will focus on showing your enthusiastic, non-patronizing support and respect for your spouse (rather than having to pick them apart, prove you are right, point out their faults above your own, or show your constant annoyance with them), you will be astounded at how their attitude towards you drastically and quickly changes. No one wants to be around someone that does not think well of them. How much more, the one you hold most dear in life? If you sometimes wonder why they prefer to be alone or in the presence of others, over you? This may be why. Understand that everyone is damaged merchandise. Your spouse does have hang-ups, quirks, bad habits, different ways, and just plain weird things about them. The goal is not to be the one that has to challenge or change all of these differences and quirks, but to love them with these differences and quirks, because you are not so very hot yourself. You my friend, are just as quirky and damaged in your own way. Let the differences and annoyances become something that you accept, love, and even defend. It is what makes them who they are. Your special little "nut job!" And being on their team, desperately requires big and regular forgiveness. You cannot admire someone you resent. You cannot be one with someone you hold in contempt. We so often want to hold on to unforgiveness because we want them to hurt like we hurt; or they just don't deserve it; or they will just keep doing it if I forgive them. We can’t change them. We can only forgive, stay loyal and trust God. We cannot love, accept and support those we cannot forgive. We cannot be one with someone from whom we have separated our heart and mind: Ephesians 4:31-32; Romans 5:8.
God loves and forgives us when we deserve nothing but desertion and rejection. And He tells us to do the same in return because that is the ultimate selfless love. If we don't do this for one another, eventually we will all have given a reason to be abandoned. This is God's way to join together in marriage. It is powerful. It is honoring. It is fulfilling. It is extremely difficult and selfless. That’s why it can only be done through Him. But real love should cost nothing less. Stop wallowing in anger and pity over their faults. Understand that marriage is a commitment to give all of one's self, no matter the cost, because they are worth it. Real love is worth it and real love is built upon nothing less.
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