I would like to speak with you this morning about the Christian home. If I were a doctor I could give you a prescription. I'm not a doctor but I can give you a Bible prescription for a happy marriage.
Let's go to Genesis 2 and find the text of this prescription. Here are the instruction for the very first couple, Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:18 KJV. And the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
Continuing at verse 21. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said; This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
Adam and Eve moved into a brand new house in the Garden of Eden. They had no mortgage! Wasn't that great? No car payments. And you can make it. You very well have a happy home if you had no car payments and no mortgage. They had no In-Laws. They had no children, no diapers to change, no student loans to pay back, no bills of any kind. It was a fantastic environment for them. They both had full time jobs working for the Eden Zoological and Agricultural Association.
Notice that God gave Adam only one wife. That's best for our happiness. And notice that she just happened to be the most beautiful woman in the world. How lucky he was! Eve was taken from one of Adam's hard ribs. I imagine it was that was the closest to his heart. Therefore, she would be an equal. She wasn't taken from a toe bone, or part of his skull. She was his sweetheart. And God joined them together. Christ was the center of this new home. They remained happily married for years, celebrating their silver, and golden wedding anniversary and even their 100th, 500th, and 930th anniversary! They lived quite a while. One man, one wife.
One day Adam and Eve were standing there and one of their boys and said to them, "Dad, I'd like your permission to marry your daughter, my sister. And that happened. I would imagine that Adam undoubtedly performed all the ceremonies for their children.
One day, Eve witnessed a funeral, a funeral of the only person in the world to die the natural death of old age. Her husband died, Adam. I would guess that the entire world probably attended the funeral. They were all there. The first man, the oldest man, and I doubt if she ever remarried. I would guess that Seth officiated at that funeral. Eve probably lived to be 1000 years old because most women outlive men. She didn't wonder what she would do because she had plenty of things to do with almost ten thousand children, grandchildren, and great great great grandchildren. The would have a lot of activities there, attending weddings, going to wedding showers, going to baby showers. If she would spend only twenty dollars on each showers, she would probably spent two hundred thousand dollars on baby showers.
In addition to that Eve must have attended an average of a wedding every day. A lot of activities for this lady. All this started from an invention that God came up with called marriage. It is not ideal for man to live alone.
God recommends a wife. You may think He's up there preaching to all those men, and that's true, but I want you women to be awake. This also applies to you, because if you find a good husband, that's a blessing, too. Proverbs 18:22. KJV, Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favor of the Lord. A wife is a good thing. A good marriage is a great thing. It's a wonderful invention. I've enjoyed a great marriage all these years. I have a great wife. And I compliment my wife, Cindy, on being a great wife.
You know, when you listen to the news you hear figures for instance that in 1970, one third of all marriages failed. In the year two thousand, they claim that one out of every two marriages failed. Fifty percent! And yet, as I look around fifty percent of the married people that I know are not divorced. There's something wrong with that. I don't know where they get those figures from. In fact, I believe that marriage is a great thing. If you enter marriage properly with the Lord Jesus Christ in your hearts, and you are committed to each other, I believe your marriage will have a one out of one chance of making it. You're going to make it.
The average marriage today does not need to end in divorce.
There are two interesting things that happened back in 1981. We all first heard about AIDS and the divorce rates peaked. I think there was a coincidence in those figures. People got afraid. That's one good benefit of AIDS, I would guess.
I personally believe that a true Christian marriage should last forever. And I am going to tell you how to make it last. You gentlemen need to go home and treat your wife like the dog. Billy Graham said, so it's not coming from me: "Dogs are quick to show their affection. They never pout, they never bear a grudge. They never run away from home when mistreated. They never complain about their food. They never gripe about the way the house is kept. They are courageous, ready to protect their mistress at the risk of their lives. They love children, and no matter how noisy and boisterous they are, the dog loves every minute of it." You need to be like that, gentlemen. And you wives, you marriage will be a better one.
So, be serious about your marriage. It seems to me that most people spend more time preparing to get their driver's license than they do preparing for their first marriage. And that's a shame.
One day a lady came up to me and asked, "Would you officiate at my wedding?" "I'd be happy to do that." "Actually I need to get married right away, I'm pregnant." And I said, "That's not the reason for marriage. The only reason for marriage is love." Would you agree? It's Christian love and commitment. A comprehensive survey was done of over three hundred couples who had been married twenty five years or more and who would marry the same person again. One hundred percent said that when they said "I DO" they considered it was forever. They meant that it would be forever.
I am absolutely convinced that a good marriage is not only possible for millions today, but probable if you will come to it with Christ and with unselfish, loving, commitment!
Psalm 127:1. This makes a statement about what happens when the Lord is involved in the home. Psalm 127:1 KJV Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless you take Jesus Christ into the center of your marriage you are laboring in vain. You need to have Jesus in your home. Otherwise you have wasted effort.
I used to build houses when I was in the seminary. And a house does not build itself. It takes hours and hours of constant work to build a house. Once it is built, it takes a lot of effort to keep that house up, to maintain that house, so the doors don't squeak or fall off the hinges, so the roof doesn't leak. And that's the same way it is with a successful marriage. It's something that you need to tend to every day.
The other day I was thinking about Second Law of Thermodynamics. Do you think about that quite a bit? This is the father of Murphy's Law. Basically this law says that in a closed system left to itself, things tend toward randomness. In other words, they disintegrate. I think this law was invented allowed by God at the entrance to sin. I think that the Second Law of Thermodynamics will be done away with at the close of the millennium after the fires of hell go out because things today tend to go to pot. That's about what this law means. They break down, things break down. It takes an ordered input of energy to keep anything going, including your car and including your marriage. Otherwise it will begin to fall apart. That's just the way it is.
I want to illustrate this to you. I brought along something today. Let's suppose the Little Boy Blue (a bottle of blue liquid) wants to marry Olive Oil (bottle of olive oil). This is a crazy illustration - anyway, they want to get married. I combined them together in this bottle (another bottle with separate layers of light and dark) and we're going to marry these two (shakes bottle of mixture). I hope that lid is on tight. (The liquid changes to a green color.) Isn't that beautiful? That's just great. They are married. They have become one. I want you to notice that. (He sets the bottle of mixed fluids on the pulpit in full view of everyone.) Will they stay one? Well, they will if they put the effort and the input into it they will stay one. (The oil and the dark liquid are separating.) If not, they are on their way to separation. You know, you could be married and you're on your way to separating and you don't even know it. You have to keep working at your marriage. You have to, like Ann Landers said, "A successful marriage is not gift, it's an achievement." It's something you work at. It's something you do.
Although the Second Law of Thermodynamics I think, basically, applies itself to material systems, I think it really describes how a marriage works. It must have daily, monthly, yearly investment of time. Probably you think I'm describing the opposite of this law, but this is the way that I see it. They tend to fall apart. They tend to separate. It tends to do something to you. If no energy is expended, eventually the relationship will begin to fall apart, to separate (The married bottle is now completely separated.). And wise couples constantly build their marriage up (He shakes the bottle again and shakes it gently to keep the mixture mixed.) rather than waiting for their marriage to be pronounced dead in some courthouse by some judge.
You need to let Jesus build your marriage and maintain your marriage, and you've got to keep at it. Once you get married should you still go on dates? Should you still spend time together. If you don't put some input into it, what's going to happen? It's going to separate. You are going to separate. You're going to drift apart. You're going to slowly pull apart and separate from what God wanted you to become.
It's sort of like Salvation. It's a daily relationship with Jesus. Otherwise you're separating from Jesus. It's a very important key to a good marriage.
And Malachi 2:14 talks about several keys important to marriage. Malachi 2:14 (NIV)- Notice the Key elements of a great marriage: You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant."
Malachi 2:15 (NIV) Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. You have to keep at it. Look at the separation that has gone on here in this (bottle) marriage.
I showed this to my wife and she said, "You have to keep agitating each other, right?" That's not the point. I don't have this illustration exactly perfect yet. Dr. Caviness helped me with this otherwise it would have been a total failure.
It's beautiful when you keep at it. Help each other. Do things together. Work at your marriage. If you just let it sit still, it'll disintegrate. Now, that won't happen when we get to heaven. There, things will tend toward togetherness.
Sir Winston Churchill is said to have made this statement about his life- "My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me! My marriage was the most fortunate and joyous event which happened to me in the whole of my life." The greatest thing he ever did, in his opinion. Now, I think that's great.
I want to tell you that commitment is the key word, and time. You need to commit time together to have something. And God is committed to us. You think about it. The Lord is committed to His people. He loves us with an unselfish love. God loves you for better or worse. God loves you in sickness or in health. God has set the example here. In fact, there's a song in the Bible that says, "Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.: And how else does that song go? Have you heard another stanza to it? "Jesus loves me when I'm bad even though it makes Him sad!" He loves us. He loves us with an unconditional love. And that's how you're supposed to love your spouse. You're supposed to spend time nurturing that love. It takes that kind of commitment to make a marriage work well.
Hebrews 13:4- Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. He will do that.
Zig Zigler says, "You need to be careful. Sex is like fire. Properly handled in marriage, it is beautiful. But a fire in the fireplace can spread to the rest of the house. And when it does, it is not beautiful. When sex spreads where it's not to be, it becomes ugly. It becomes destructive. So, be careful in what you do. Spend time with your wife and you will have a beautiful relationship. It takes time. It takes time. You need to be able to say to your wife, "You know, sweetheart, I was totally faithful to you today." You need to be able to say that every day.
I think lust, worldly love, is sort of like flies on a screen door. Those that are on the outside want to get in, and those already in want to get out! Let's be content with what we have, with the wife of our youth, or with the wife that you have.
The Bible makes an interesting command in Ephesians 5:25. Husbands, love your wives... That's a command. It's interesting that God would command that to the husband. If you prime the pump, the wife will respond.
Cultivate love in your marriage. Even if your wife or husband does not manifest love as you think he should, you must be faithful and do your part. Make sure that your love is always there and you are what you should be. "Successful marriage demands a divorce; a divorce from your own self-love." - Paul Frost
Carl Sandburg's daughter, Helga, wrote this about her parents: "There were never loud arguments back and forth in our house. My father raged and roared, and often! But it was one way. Mother coaxed him out of it. Once when he was very old, I saw him pull at a door. The door was stuck. He pulled and rattled the handle and shouted. My mother, a small woman, looked up at him and patted his chest saying: 'What a fine strong voice!' Immediately he was disarmed and stood there quietly in love."
Ephesians 5:25 continues: Love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Be willing to give your life for your wife.
Do you sacrifice for your mate? Be willing to give up something you would like, or something that you would like to do in order to spend time together or to do something special for her. Give her the biggest dish of Ice Cream. Offer her the last chocolate in the box. Offer her your comfortable chair. Let her drive the best car. Be willing to give up baseball with your buddies so you will have time to take your wife out to eat or just to sit and visit with your bride. Would you sacrifice a phone call that comes in the middle of supper if you knew that it bothered your spouse? The Bible says, love your wife even as Christ loved His church and sacrificed Himself for it.
Begin each day praying for wisdom and love to match the various situations that are waiting along the hour posts of the next twenty four hours. Turn over your heart to Jesus. Make Jesus the king of your life. Commit your life anew to Jesus. Surrender everything to Jesus.
Next recommit yourself to your marriage. Tell your wife that you love her. Ask: Sweetheart, is there anything that I could do today that would make your life a little easier or that would bring you a little more happiness? One marriage counselor said there would never be a divorce if couples would just learn to say at the beginning of the day: "What do you need from me today?" "What can I do today to meet your needs?" Pray for your wife throughout the day. Think about her. Plan time to talk. Compliment her.
One of the finest compliments ever given to a wife was given by Joseph Choate, one-time US ambassador to Great Britain. Someone asked him who he would like to be if he could come back to earth again after death. He quickly answered: "I would like to come back as Mrs. Choate's second husband!" Well, that's great! That's real commitment.
When you express your love, and you express it publicly and honestly, your wife will respond.
I Corinthians 13:4-8. These are beautiful verses. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes. always perseveres. Love never fails.
Isn't that beautiful? Adam and Eve had that type of love. They were married for almost a thousand years. That's a long time. And I believe God blessed their marriage. And you, even though you don't live in Eden, you can have that same type of happiness in your home if you will take the same Christ, the same God into the center of your home like they had. may God bless each home here today. May you work on your marriage. Spend time with each other. And be in the kingdom together.
Hymn of Praise: #73, Holy, Holy, Holy Scripture: Responsive Reading, #827 (From Ephesians 4 and 5) Hymn of Response: #655, Happy the Home 020504#313
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last updated 5/6/2002 by Bob Beckett.