In this study series we are going to invest in the lives of you that hope to get married one day; and to those who are married we want to remind you of some things about what it means to be married.
The foundation of the church; the foundation of the community is family. God created marriage and family before he created the church. So it is very, very important that we put in time and invest in learning what we can to have good, loving, and happy marriages. We don't need marriages where people just exist together, we need marriages where people are in love with one another and the have a home that is a Godly, and where Jesus is the center of their home.
So this study series is going to invest in you by presenting five studies about how to have a fail proof marriage by keeping five commitments.
Ladies, how many of you, when you were a little girl dreamed of growing up on day, getting married with the perfect wedding? Then having your husband carry you across the threshold to that perfect house? Loving you? Rubbing your back and your feet when you are tired? You even had the names of your children picked out before you got married. If that was you, lift your hand.
I think every little girl dreams of the day when they are going to get married. They play house. They have the little dolls and doll house and they dream about one day about being married.
You guys, how about you? How many of you guys dreamed about getting married one day? Raise your hands. I see no hands? Oh, two or three? Thank God.
One more question. How many of you are still dreaming? Oh, a couple of you. . .OK!
There is a lot of expectations about what marriage is going to be like one day. A lot of times when the marriage does not meet our expectations, there is all sorts of let downs, disappointments, hurt, pain, anger and even divorce. As you are going through this study you may have had some bad experiences and you have had wounded in relationships. You may be in one right now that is in bad shape.
A lot of people ask, "Is a good marriage even possible?"
I want to answer beyond the shadow of a doubt, emphatically. . .the answer is YES! It is possible to have a great marriage.
It is not likely if you do what everybody else in our society is doing in their marriage, that you would have a great marriage.
If you look at the statistics you will see they are horrifying! About fifty per cent of marriages that start out will not make it. Five out of ten marriages will fail. The tragedy is the younger you are when you get married, the more likely your marriage will not make it. Statistics show those who get married at twenty five or younger are in a danger zone where about eighty per cent of these do not make it.
I pray that we can change that statistic!
A lot of the fifty per cent of marriages that do make it are miserable, having no intimacy, and the only reason they are staying in the marriage is for their kids' sake. They decided they were here for the kids and we are going to live together in the same house. This is really not a marriage because there is no intimacy and no love.
The odds are really stacked against us if we do what everybody else does. What other significant area of your life are you satisfied with just a fifty per cent odds against you?
If you knew there was a fifty per cent chance you would get cancer for eating the same kind of cereal every day, I believe you would quit eating that cereal.
If you knew that there was a fifty per cent chance all your investments and all your money in the bank was going to totally be gone, chances are you would be doing something today to get your money into a safe place.
If there is only a fifty per cent chance that our marriages will make it, then we need to do some things different!
In this crazy world that we live in you can't get a driver's permit without taking a class. But you can get a marriage license in some places for fifteen dollars, with no kind of teaching or training.
This is why we need to talk about marriage. You may be thinking, "Pastor this does not apply to me". I think it applies to every one of us, whether your married or whether you want to be married, or even if you don't care to be married. This study series will help you in whatever relationships you are in.
God's word tells us there is a certain way that we ought to do things and there is a certain way not to do things. We are going to talk about how to get things in order, you will do things the right way, and then get married.
As a Christian you should get married in a church, by a pastor, and go through the counseling, and learn how to put some biblical principles in place, and ask God to help you have a wonderful, happy, loving, marriage. This is what God wants us to have.
If you do this you will stand and say some vows like I said to my wife Beth, over thirty years ago when we stood before this church and the pastor had us say,
"I David take you Beth, to be my wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward. . ." I love that line because there is hope in these words.
It does not matter what has happened in the past.
It does not matter how many times we messed up, even in our dating relationships. We struggles and here we are, now saying, "From this day forward". There is hope that from this moment forward there is going to be a difference.
Our commitment to each other and to God, was when we said, "For better or for worst, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, we forsake all others, and are faithful to you as long as we both shall live. So help me God!"
This was not and still is not multiple choice.
The problem is so many say "So help me God" like this, "Oh! So Help me. . God!"
It is more like they are crying a declaration. . .But we need to say it as a request.
"So, help me God to fulfill these vows." Because we need to honor God in this covenant of marriage.
In this series we are going to look at Five Commitments to a Fail Proof Marriage:
Seeking God - from this day forward.
Fight Fair - from this day forward.
Have Fun - from this day forward.
Stay Pure - from this day forward.
Never Give UP!
I don't want you to memorize these, but I want you to internalize them.
Through the process of this series we are going to give you some tool to help you be successful with your marriage.
The best way to fail-proof your marriage is to SEEK GOD.
The problem is a lot of people are not really seeking God before they are married.
They are seeking a spouse; that someone perfect; that one person that is going to fulfill all their needs. Because everyone know you really can't be happy in life until you meet the ONE.
So the guy goes out and he meets the young lady and she is so pretty and he says, "Oh, she is so pretty and she smells so good. When she does this it just drives me crazy." He is so excited about this person and she is just an angel in his eyes. Then he thinks, "I have met the ONE, this is the ONE. Of all the women in the world, this woman is the ONE! There is nobody else that is what she is, She is the ONE!" And the girl says, "Oh, he is so sweet, he is so perfect, he just talks and talks and talks. Oh, I just love him so much!" The thinks, "I've met the ONE that is going to take care of all my needs; give me security; and provide for me; and everything is going to be perfect; he is my knight in shining armor!"
People really believe that if they are going to be fulfilled in life we have to find the ONE. We have been taught that by society. What I would love as a pastor and a Christian to just one time hear somebody say, "Oh, I've meet somebody and they are so Godly; they are so awesome; and we have so much fun together; and we have this real bond; I think I might have met the TWO!"
God is Your ONE, Your Spouse is Your TWO!
This is one of the most important principles you can have in relationships.
God is ONE! When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment, he did not say love your spouse with all your mind, with all heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment, he essentially said, "God is your ONE!"
Make God your number one: Matthew 22:37-38
You shall love the Lord you God with all your hear, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.
Then Jesus said, the second is, "You love your neighbor (spouse) as yourself." (Matthew 22:39).
So God is your ONE, and your spouse is your TWO!
You would say,
"God is my ONE, and my boyfriend is my TWO!"
"God is my ONE, and my girlfriend is my TWO!"
"God is my ONE, and my fiancé is my TWO!"
Not Married but Want to Be
To those who are not married but you would like to be married one day.
If you are not married but you would love it if God would bring to you your number TWO here is your commitment, your driving force of life:
I will seek the ONE while preparing for the TWO!
What we are going to do when we are not married above everything else is: Honor God
Live by God's Spirit
Follow God's Word
All of our life bring glory to God.
We are not seeking a spouse, we are seeking God first and seeking his kingdom.
Then as it says in Matthew 6:33, by seeking God first, He will add all these other things unto you. People are so wrapped up with trying to find a wife or a husband, that significant other; where they are trying to put all their focus, all their attention on; but they have left God out of the picture.
The challenge in our culture today is that people, even those who call themselves Christians, put the God thing off until you think like matters more. So you are single and you kind of think, "Well, one day I will be married and we will get the church thing going then. But for right now I am going to go to the clubs, have fun, and scope out to see who's there. I might jump around from one person to another and live a little for now. I will get down to spiritual business later."
This is incredibly dangerous and incredibly common in the day which we live.
Andy Stanely, who pastors in Atlanta and his Dad is the more famous Charles Stanely, tells a true story about a young lady that was in his church. She was a very committed Christian, loved God with all of her heart, but when she went off to college she did what so many college students do and first gave into the peer pressure and started partying. The alcohol began to flow, and the alcohol turned into drugs, and that turned into guy after guy after guy. Then she fell into this lifestyle of very destructive sin. In the back of her mind the entire time she would say, "I still believe in God." She still though she wanted a Godly marriage one day and I am going to come back to God and do the right thing. She continued living in this ungodly lifestyle and one day she met a guy that was everything she had ever hoped for. He was godly, a good Christian, a terrific leader, he discipled other men, and he had a great career. She went to her mom and said, "Mom I met this guy who is everything; he's godly, he is perfect, he is the kind of guy that I have always dreamed of. I want to make myself available to him." The mom looked at her daughter very lovingly and said to her, "Sweetheart you need to know. A guy like that is not looking for a girl like you."
This story should make you feel like you just got kicked in the gut.
"A guy like that is not looking for a girl like you."
Like attracts like. The way you live will be the kind of person you will attract.
If you live a godly life, a committed life, you are going to attract a godly young man or a godly young lady. If you are out here sowing your wild oats and being just as wild as you can be and you think one day you are going to get your act together, one day I am going to serve God. Don't think for one moment that God is going to bring that godly person into your life. There is a principle that will take place: like attracts like.
My great advice for young people and anyone that is single is if you want to have a godly marriage one day, you need to live a godly life today. Seek God today and become the kind of person that you want to marry. If you want to marry someone who has eighteen different sex partners, then do what everybody else does. If you want a fifty-fifty odds of your marriage ending, just live that way.
But if you will seek the ONE while preparing for the TWO, then God will make sure that He brings the right person into your life at the right time.
If you live a godly life you will have a godly marriage!
To the Married People
Your commitment will be I will always the seek the ONE with my TWO!
We are always going to seek the ONE together with our spouse.
This is so important because our marriages will never be what God wants them to be unless He is ONE and our spouse is TWO.
So often we get this all mixed up and we try to make our spouse the ONE.
I know we like to say my husband or my wife is number one, or my family is number one to me. You would like to think to your spouse you are number one. I understand where that is coming from but it is wrong. God has to be number one and your spouse has to be number two.
We are getting it mixed up. We say, "Oh, you're going to make me happy and my spouse, they are number one." We might make God as our ONE and make our children as our TWO. Some marriages put the children before the spouse, and that is not healthy.
Some people put their career as the TWO.
The just have to work, work, work, work, work!
Make money, make money, make money!
They can't go to the ball game with their son, they can't go to the dance recital.
So God is their number ONE and their career is their number TWO.
Any time we get this thing out of order there is trouble.
God is your ONE, not your spouse, not your career, not your children.
Your spouse is your TWO, not your children; that is what divides homes.
You have one parent siding with one child over this and the other parent siding with another child over that. The parents just butt heads because they can't agree on how to raise the children so they put their children before the spouse. You have to make sure that you keep your priorities in order: God is your ONE and your spouse is your TWO. The only way this will work is if God is you One and your spouse is your TWO.
When you try to the spouse, or the boyfriend, or the girlfriend the ONE, you are idolizing them. When you say, "Oh, you are going to make me so happy and I feel so good when I am around you; without you I am nothing," you are putting undue pressure on a person who is incapable of meeting our need. So you are idolizing them, putting them on a pedestal. Then when they let you down, which the will always do, because everyone is sinful people, then you demonize them. You go from idolizing until they disappoint you and then you demonize them. You go from you are wonderful to you're not doing right, you're not meeting my needs.
You know the drill. "Oh, she is so organized, she is so driven. Oh, she is so passionate about life." Then they are married for a while and she becomes a control freak. He says, "She now wants everything her way and she is driving me crazy. She just nags, nags, nags, nags, nags, nags." Idolize. . .demonize. . .
She says, "I just love him, he is so laid back and he comforts me and he is so easy to going and we can just talk together." Then it changes to, "He's a bump on a log, he won't do anything, he's not a leader, he just sits there playing video games, all day long. There is no motivation, there is no initiative." Idolize. . .demonize.
So what do we do?
We seek the ONE with the TWO.
We are continuing to seek God with our spouse.
How do we seek God?
How do we practically do that?
I sat down and made this list of some eight or ten things I thought would be good for me to bring; some spiritual disciplines; things we can do to strengthen our marriages while having a great relationship with God. As I was preparing this I felt God say to me, "They are not going to do all of that. They're not going to do eight or ten things; they are going to get frustrated and not even going to remember all of it. You bring those ten things, chances are they are going to do ZERO things." So I narrowed it down to one thing. One discipline, one thing that I believe will be important for you in your marriage, to do with your spouse.
There is a book called The Power of Habit. In this book the author talks about what he calls "keystone habits." These certain habits, if you will do them creates forward momentum.
A good for instance of a keystone habit would be "Don't quit flossing!" I know I sound like a dental technician but don't quit flossing.
This is the first discipline that usually goes.
The next thing you do is you stop exercising.
The next thing you do is you don't eat right.
Then this one discipline triggers another either positive or negative discipline.
So when you floss you exercise right, you sleep better, you wake up earlier, your more productive, I do a better job, I'm happier, and I'm a better husband.
If I don't floss, I don't exercise, I don't eat right, I don't sleep well, I put on weight, I come to work and someone says, "You're looking fat." I get mad, I hit them, I get fired as your pastor, and driving home, police officer pulls me over, I run and now I'm in jail and why? And it's all because I did not floss. When you quit doing that everything else falls apart.
There are certain habits that we do that affects other habits either positively or negatively. There are certain things we can do that will benefit us in other areas. I am a huge believer in that what we do creates momentum. So the keystone habit I want to give you is very, very simple which is:
Pray together every day
This is your keystone habit, to pray together every day. To seek God together in prayer.
Some of you may be saying, "Oh, you are asking him to pray with me?"
The husband may be thinking, "I don't want to pray, I don't know how to pray, I get nervious, I don't know what to say, I don't have knowledge about all that."
It is ok if you think this way, I want to talk to you about this in just a moment, but first I want to talk to you who will marry one day.
Praying Together Creates Intimacy
What you need to know is that praying together is so intimate.
Prayer will bring you together with that person you are about to marry like nothing else does.
I want to recommend don't pray together in a parked car because of the temptation.
Nothing will bring intimacy between two people greater than praying together, praying in a parked car can cause intimacy. Read between the lines.
Married people. . .
Pray with your spouse in a restaurant with the candlelight because it creates intimacy.
I am not being funny. When you pray together with your spouse there is an intimacy that is created between that husband or that wife.
You need to know 2Chronicles 7:14
"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
We could very loosely say, "and I will HEAL their marriage."
I know there are a lot of people who feel they do not know how to do this, and I acknowledge there are a lot of complications. Some people are married to non-believers and I know that this is never going to happen. You are never going to be able to pray with your unbelieving spouse. I know that this is complicated. But I do know that if we will seek God with our spouse God will hear you. I do not know who couples make it without prayer because it is so very, very important.
It could just be a simple prayer for the day where you take your spouse by the hand and you say, "God bless this day, bless our day together, bless my husband, bless my wife. Bless them and keep the safe as they travel today. Help them on the job, help them on that presentations, help them with the house work and taking care of the children." Just a simple prayer saying "God bless my spouse today." Just start there. Then you can get more organized as you go along. You can make a list of things you want to pray about so you don't get in the middle of a prayer and say, "Ok, God, umm. . .ahhh. . .ahhh. . .Amen. So you can write them down. You are praying for things together like your children, wisdom in decision making: "We have to buy a new washing machine soon, God lead us to the right appliance place, give us a good deal."
This is just learning to pray.
Pray for people in your church that you know are struggling with their marriage.
Pray for your friends at work, those who are sick, have cancer, been diagnosed with an incurable disease.
Pray for that boss that is not a follower of Jesus.
Pray for those relatives who are going through hard times.
There is a lot to pray about. This is not rocket science.
Just think about the needs of people around you and agree with your spouse about it in prayer.
You could be at work and you think about your spouse, text them and tell them, "Hello honey, I am praying for you today. I know you have a presentation (or something else at work) and I am thinking about you and praying for you."
This creates an incredible amount of intimacy between you and your spouse.
Most likely you are going to be in church together because you pray together.
When you pray together regularly the changes are that you will be going to church together regularly. Then you are going to get more involved with the church together regularly. You are likely to get a small group together. This will begin to be a keystone habit that manifests in other areas. You are more likely to bring your children up loving God. When someone cuts you off in traffic, rather than chasing them down and killing them, you're more likely to forgive them. You are more likely to do all these things when you pray together because it is building a momentum that is helping you in your marriage.
It is really hard to fight with somebody you are praying for.
It is hard to be nit-picky with someone when you are praying for them.
It is hard to have an on-going "I hate you, you jerk, you’re the anti-christ", when you are praying together.
It is hard to commit adultery or get hooked on porn when you have a spiritual commitment or intimacy with your spouse.
It is hard to want to break their heart or be unfaithful, when you are praying together.
It is hard to divorce someone who you are seek God with.
You may be thinking this is just too much information.
Fine. . . .Take your odds. . . .There is a 50% chance against your marriage.
If it does make it, chances are better than not that you are going to just stick together for the sake of the kids and roughing it out your whole life.
You can take these odds if you want too. . .
Or you can get crazy spiritual and say, "SO HELP US GOD!". . . . . ."SO. . HELP US. . .GOD!"
Here is a few statistics:
Family Life ran a survey a few years ago where they asked thousands of Christian couples and they found that fewer than 8% of Christian couples pray together regularly.
Here's some good news.
Of those 8% of Christian couples that do pray together, they found fewer than 1% divorce.
Either a 55% or a 99% chance of your making it in marriage, if you pray together or not?
The choice is yours!
Satan does not want you to pray with your wife.
Satan does not want you to pray with your husband.
Satan does not want young people to pray with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
He gets you to feel "I am so embarrassed, he/she will think I am a fanatic".
Every person you date is a possible mate.
You should be able to pray with those you date.
2Corinthians 6:14 tells us to not be unequally yoked. . .
I don't think it means Christian or non-Christians.
I think it means are you both of on the same level spiritually.
Because to not be is to be unequally yoked.
We Seek God First
Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
You might think, "But we don't do that, we don't seek God first."
From This DAY Forward!
"Pastor we have been married for forty years and we have never prayed together."
From This DAY Forward!
"But Pastor you don't understand, we have been through a lot in our marriage. It has been up and down."
From This DAY Forward! God will be Our ONE! And my spouse will be my TWO!
I served as a Hospice chaplain for a number of years before I became a pastor here.
I did not see this first hand but I heard about a couple that the wife was dying of cancer.
She was eighty-eight and her husband was ninety. They had been married for over seventy years. It was a moment that the Hospice chaplain that saw this said he walked into the room where the woman was; all the family was there; the children, the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren. They were all around the bed of this precious lady that was about to enter into heaven. The feeble ninety year old man opened up his Bible to Psalm 23. With tears streaming down his face he began to read to his wife. Everybody in that room joined hands together as that man put one hand on his wife's head, he committed her to God in heaven. He thanked God for seventy years getting God together with his best friend. He kissed her on the forehead and said, "Honey I will see you soon." Just a few moments later she slipped off into eternity. She's now waiting on the other side.
The Hospice chaplain look at the man and said, "I want to have what you have. What is your secret?" The old man said, "We have messed up so many times through the years, but the one thing that we did was be faithful to pray with each other every day."
My wife and I made a commitment many years ago that I would never leave the house without us praying together. A few times I have rushed out and forgot to do it, but I miss it if we don't join hands and pray together before we start our day.
Right now I want you to grab hands with your TWO and never stop seeking the ONE!
"Father I pray today that the Holy Spirit will do a work in all of our lives.
God, for those who are not yet married, but hope to be one day, I hope that they will fall in love with seeking you as their ONE as they prepare for their TWO.
For those who are married, God I pray that they will commit to always seek the ONE in their lives.
If you are young, old, married, not married, single, or divorced and you recognize that you really have not been seeking the ONE as you should. I encourage you to make a commitment From this Day Forward to seek the ONE. Commit yourself to not neglect the incredible blessing of fellowship and communion with my Heavenly Father. Commit to seek Him faithfully in prayer.
If you are married and you recognize that you need God's help to make Him your ONE, as you pray for your TWO, commit yourself to him now in prayer.
For He is Your ONE. . .From this day forward!