As Christ Loves The Church.

 

Why does marriage seem so complicated? Is it?
Why would anyone get married—anticipating a divorce? (No one does).
Yet, the distressing reality is–something is desperately missing:
The United States Marriage Statistics indicates…
A. Over fifty percent of marriages end in divorce?
B. Seventy two percent of those that stay together say they are doing it because of the kids.
C. Over ninety percent of those that stayed say they wish they could be divorced.That enchanting desires to be together forever, sadly ends within only days or months of the wedding.

The French proverb says’: “Marriage is like a place besieged, those within wish to get out, those without wish to get in.

”Marriage however, is the most honorable thing a man can do in the eyes of God. God instituted it, when he saw Adam in need of a suitable helpmeet. The institution has always been perfect; it’s the people who are flawed with imperfections.

For who can find a virtuous woman?
Her price? It’s far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusteth in her, so that he’s not jealous or uncertain of her love.
He’s confident that she will not deceive him, or cause him shame and embarrassment.
Moreover, she’s praised–for her true beauty is not her outward appearance, but her reverence for God.
(Proverbs 31:10,11,30. Paraphrased)

Also, “He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22).

Finding and marrying her is the easy part, the work begins after the honeymoon. When the excitement wanes and realties unfold. A new perspective, (on bills and babies, wants and desires, sickness and pain, in-law’s and undesirable acquaintances) all seen from the inside looking out. These and so many others can alter a relationship.
All the drama and complications, are never part of “His Divine Design.”

Far too many husbands have surrendered to slogans like “Happy wife equals happy life.” Their wives dictate the terms of the relationship, and he either complies or else.

Several wives have also traded their happiness for the financial benefits available. If her bills are paid, she has a credit card for expenses and he makes an occasional conjugal visit, he is free to do as he pleases.

Other spouses have conceded, “It is what it is” while suffering in silence, they’re together but living single–desperately yearning for a more meaningful relationship. These couples make up 25% of all marriages.

Yet there are others, “Cheaters,” deceptively living two separate lives. These “Oscar-winning performers,” move about the house like robots–cooking, washing, cleaning, taking the kids to school, or taking out the trash. A routine so well-choreographed, they even boast about the number of years they’ve been married. But, they don’t live there anymore -they’re physically present but emotionally–absent.

But, being married for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean the marriage is successful, and people are happy. I know of several couples who’ve been married for over 50 years, but their relationships are not worthy of emulation. They’re content with living separate lives—even attending separate churches. Somehow, they’ve learned to tolerate each other, settling for–“It is what it is.” Too embarrassed to fail, too afraid to start over, too proud to cry out for help and all too often, just don’t know where to turn or what to do next.

However, in a truly successful marriage:
A. The love of God is displayed.
C. Spouses enjoy the peace of God abounding with joy and happiness.
D. His sacrificial love inspires her utmost respect.
E. Spouses understand their need for each other; and are diligent in meeting those needs despite their imperfections.
F. They’re one–inseparable and everyone knows it.
Marriage in Crisis.
The answer to our marriage crisis is not better communication, more money, or better sex, (though all three are important) but an outright return to the word of God, and simply—follow the instructions. Christlikeness, must become the focus of marriage. “Put God first” should be more than a religious mantra. It should be a daily exercise in spirituality, for transformative growth.

Each spouse must adhere to a discipline of prayer and the study of God’s word. “Study to show thyself approved unto God a workman that need not be ashamed but rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Timothy 2:15). When we know the truth, we’ll act accordingly.

”The training of the twelve was a constant and prominent part of the work of Christ.” (A. B. Bruce). Therefore, every born -again believer must commit to continuous discipleship training, particularly those contemplating marriage and more-so those who are married.

Many churches hold a new members class lasting three to six months. Discipleship however, is a life-long process, building precept upon precept. Despite advance technology in social media and the many mega-ministries available, yet so many marriages are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. We’ve traded our significance, for relevance, and as a result our relevance makes us insignificant. Jesus warns, “If the salt has lost its’ savor, it is thenceforth good for nothing….” (Matthew 5:13)

We sing and shout, we shake hands and dance, we say amen when prompted, we preach and take offerings, but we’ve failed to teach the truth of God’s word. Pastors are commissioned, “to feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost have made you overseers.” Instead, the flock bleeds—wounded by wolves in sheep clothing.
We are called to be lights. As he is, so are we to this world. What fellowship can light have with darkness? How are we to reach the lost, and keep those who are saved, committed to a life of obedience to the word of God, when we have so many broken homes and lives? How can you build a solid structure with broken pieces?

Is there not a balm in Gilead?

Is anything too hard for the lord?

Indeed, nothing is impossible with God.

If marriage is meant to reflect the relationship of Christ and the church, then the Image is badly distorted. We are seriously missing the mark. The Apostle Paul wrote: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” (Galatians 4:20). Christ must be formed in every believer. Sadly, this is not the substance of our modern-day preaching.

The Bible says, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally…and he shall receive.” (James 1:5.) By “precept upon precept,” we can increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and our spouses. The choice is always to either, obey or disobey the word of God. There are blessings for obedience, and likewise, there are consequences for disobedience. (Deuteronomy 28).

Therefore, the success or failure of the marriage depends on the choice we make.
Disobedient by nature, we continually fashion ourselves according to the course of this world in deceitful lust. We would rather choose the course of the world, and the counsel of the ungodly than doing what the Bible says. Jesus said, blessed are they that, hear the word of God and keep it. (luke 11:28).
It was Mary the mother of Jesus who–at the wedding feast in Cana, admonished his disciples “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” The results were miraculous–Jesus turned water into wine. Similarly, by our obedience to the word of God, that seemingly hopeless relationship can very well be a celebrated testimony.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to trust him every day, every step of the way. His promise is to make all things work together for our good. The circumstances he allows, are not to destroy us but to cause us to bond together and become better; instead so many become bitter. The demand for change often comes with intense pressure, but it’s the process by which diamonds are formed. Submitting to the process is where most of us struggle.

No one is perfect, we all have our unique differences, but by patience and understanding, with love and respect, we can all learn to work through whatever the issue.
Following a pattern isn’t always easy, since by nature we’re prone to doing things our way. But after so many failures, isn’t it time to re-examine the masters-plan and carefully follow the instructions? How sad it is, when instead of adhering to the counsel of the immutable word of God, pastors advise their congregants to seek professional help, as if the psychologist is better qualified than God. “These pastors, profess they know God; but in works they deny him…” (Titus 1:16). How can the blind lead the blind? (Luke 6:39)

The Bible says “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:1,2.

Discipleship is all about following: “For even hereunto were we called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21). We talk about putting God first, but in practice he’s somewhere on the sideline—reserved for our convenience.

But if we follow the pattern–we’ll want for nothing
“He’ll lead us into green pastures,
He ‘ll lead us beside still waters,
He’ll restore our souls,
He’ll lead us in the paths of righteousness for his name sake,
Though we may walk through the valley of the shadows of death, we need not fear evil for He’s with us,
His rod and staff will comfort us
He’ll prepare a table in the presence of our enemies,
He’ll anoint our heads with oil, our cup will run over.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23.
The Lord is our Shepherd, we should follow him.

When Moses was about to build the tabernacle; God admonished him– “Do all things according to the pattern shown thee in the mount.” Numbers 8:4, Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5. Moses obeyed God.

Marriage is not complicated as many would have us to believe and there are no secrets to happily ever after. Paul the Apostle writes: Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2. The key is to cast away all pre-conceived ideologies, and be open to doing things God’s way. Whatever marriage models we’ve had in our past, they cannot be substituted for the specifics of the pure word of God.

Marriage is an institution of higher learning—registration is open to adults only. The basic requirements are an obedient heart and a made-up mind. Some things you’ll never know until you enroll.

But, Jesus said, ‘’Take my yolk upon you and learn of me.’’ (Matthew 11:28).
As we sit at his feet, “to as many as receive him, he gives power to become the sons of God….” (John 1:12). But, to become demands change. Maintaining a healthy marriage requires continuous emotional and spiritual growth. Moreover, because marriage is synonymous with Christlikeness, God ordained marriage to be catalyst that brings us into conformity to the image of Ghrist. The measure of His stature and the mark of this high calling to which we must press is–As Christ Loves the Church. What Christ is to the church and the church to Christ, must be mirrored in the relationship of the husband to his wife and the wife to her husband. (“This is a great mystery…. Ephesians 5:32)

The new curriculum Includes:
A. Listening and obedience.
B. Decisions and commitment
C. Teamwork and togetherness.
D. Changing and accepting changes
E. Discipline and Humility.
F. Openness and Intimacy.
G. Love and respect.
Graduates, will have a greater understanding of reconciling–one plus one equals one.

Here’s the prescribed synopsis—as listed in Ephesians 5:22-33.
1. Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. Verse 22.
2. The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. Verse 23.
3. As the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Verse 24.
4. Husbands love your wives even, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it. Verse 25.
To ignore these instructions is to guarantee a failed marriage or even divorce. The statistics clearly indicate how far we’ve drifted from these biblical precepts. Like Adam and Eve, we stubbornly persist, desperately trying to mend the breach with fig-leaves—man-made efforts that continue to fail. All the while God is calling us, back to a life of “obedience to his word.”

God did not ask the woman for her husband. He spoke directly to the man, because God knew exactly where he was. Adam! Where arth thou? In other words, God was saying I know where you are, but do you know where you are. Like so many today; Adam was lost in the darkness of his disobedience.
To Gods question, Adam replied, I’m naked and afraid. Adam was no longer aware of his environment; his innocence was removed and he became self-conscious.
Who told you that you were naked, have you done that which I commanded you not to…?
The woman…She gave me of the tree and I did eat.
Eve, what is this that thou hast done?
Eve replied, “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.”
As we so often do, instead of acknowledging the wrong we’ve done–Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. They both excused themselves by transferring the blame to another–a common trend in social net-workings to dodge accountability. The relationship they once had with God was broken by unbelief, which led to their disobedience.

God had commanded the man, saying, of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16,17.
God didn’t need an advisor or press-secretary to clarify his statements. He said ’what he meant and He meant what he said. “God is not a man that he should lie.” Numbers 23:19. Whenever God speaks, our only response should be–to obey.
God will not double down for fear of contradictions or reprisals. He speaks boldly and clearly so that there’s never a need for questioning or explaining. He’s God–lovingly sovereign and graciously Almighty.

However, it’s common human behavior to hide when we do wrong. We prefer to live in denial and deceptive pretense, rather than confess and be forgiven. This is the unhappy state of so many marriages, hanging only by a thread of hope. Spouses, praying, that somehow the conflicts will go away and life will get better. But, there are no magical formulas; God says, “If we confess our sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Why tell a lie, to cover-up the wrong–making the bad situation worse. There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed. Sooner than later the truth will surface.

To hope for things not seen is what the Bible describes as Faith. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) What we see and feel, has nothing to do with Faith. Faith simply believes what God said. If God said it, then He’s well able to do exceeding and abundantly above all that we can ask or think… Ephesians 3:20.
There will be times when we’ll have no clue as to what to do, or where to go; when all our senses are screaming give up–It’s over–run away. It’s in those times we keep walking, even though it’s dark, it hurts, and the pain is unbearable. Like Job in the Bible, we must trust God, even when we feel forsaken, cast down, despised and rejected. When it gets difficult to pray alone–call for the elders of the church, but keep on praying. Never give up. Stand on His word and rest assured, He will make a way somewhere–somehow. Walk— not according to what you see, hear or feel, but by faith.

Walking is a natural, step by step physical activity most of us learned by age two. Likewise, we can all learn the discipline of walking by faith-step, by step, by step. Keep your eyes on the pattern and following the instructions. That’s all the master requires of us. God does not need our help in fulfilling his plan a nd purpose. Trust and obey is all that’s required.

Here’s a vital lesson I’ve learned…The Sunroom
While writing this book, God divinely orchestrated the circumstances whereby, I secured a project to install an 8’ x20’ Sunroom. In the construction trade, this is considered a small job, but in my world of expertise, this was huge. With no experience, I was both excited and apprehensive in fluctuating gut-wrenching intervals. Nevertheless, inspired by the challenge and the income potential, I Jumped right in.
An eighteen-wheel-tractor-trailer delivered the “kit” comprising of ten huge boxes each measuring 4’x 8’. Just seeing the truck and then the boxes were intimidating enough. But, I knew from experience assembling home furniture; my first order of business was to find the instruction manual.
Opening the boxes, I thought–how in the world am I going to accomplish this and where do I begin?
Where is the manual?
Why so many pieces?
Which screw goes where?
Question after question flooded my mind.
Somehow, I mustered the courage to calm my anxiety. Like Sherlock Holmes, I carefully examined each part, until I stumbled upon the manual. The pattern of the Sunroom was on the front cover. Rays of confidence lifted my spirit, as my fears subsided. Browsing through pages 1,2,3 showed every part alphabetically listed, and labeled with quantities in the adjacent column.

Then, on the top left-hand corner of page nine, in bold black and white, I saw–Step 1. Like a five-year-old, on Christmas morning I snatched those parts, and with meticulous precision, I assembled them following every instruction, step, by step.
I completed Step 1. Step 2., and Step 3. Hallelujah! An intense surge of confidence flooded my soul as I hastened to Steps 4 and 5. What at first seemed overwhelming became pleasurably comfortable as I confidently followed each set of instructions in direct obedience, one step at a time.

Of course, there were times when I didn’t quite understand the next move. I slowed down, rested a while and resumed with fresh insight. The following day, before resuming work, I carefully re-read the instructions, took a closer look at the pattern, and assertively followed each step, as if I had assembled sunrooms before.
Within one exciting week, following 72 steps, from an 82-page manual; I completed the project.

As in creation, I looked over what I single-handedly built and yes–it was good. I even took a few pictures. The homeowners were happy, and I gratefully went home–well paid.
Then, just two weeks later the weather forecast predicted a snow blizzard, with winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour with expected snow accumulations between 18 to 24 inches.
I was concerned but not troubled. I did as I was instructed in the manufacturer’s manual. Also, in our pre-sale discussions, the salesman assured me, that the product could handle the snow. How much, was the unanswered question.

On January 22,23 24, of 2016 after almost 48 hours, of 50 mph wind and snow; we had accumulations of over 18 inches as forecast. But, Hallelujah! Thank God! The sunroom is still standing, and there were no damages whatsoever. To God be all the Glory, forever.
I can hear the spirit of God saying to every couple—there’s no need to fear the storms of life if, we do whatsoever He says.
There’s no doubt; there will be storms.