Monthly Archives: February 2016

 

Love Like You Mean It Main (1)

Love That Lasts by Rick Burdette

1 John 4:16-4:18

Love Like You Mean It – Love That Lasts
1 John 4:16-18 (pg. 857) February 28, 2016

Introduction:

I have a joke I share with my mom almost every single week as she goes to the beauty parlor to get her hair “did.”

She says they’re going to give her a “permanent” and I laugh and say…“it only lasts a week…shouldn’t they call it a “temporary?”

Permanent is a pretty heavy duty word. It means something is intended to last for an indefinite period of time…It comes from the Latin word “permanens – to stay to the end.”

There are very few relationships that “stay to the end.” Many have learned that truth the hard way.

Author Keith Miller tells of an outgoing 40 year old woman who was part of a sharing group he had. Here is her story:

“When I was a tiny little girl, my parents died and I was put in an orphanage. I was not pretty at all and no one seemed to want me. But I longed to be adopted and loved by a family as far back as I can remember. I thought about it day and night, but everything I did seemed to go wrong. I must have tried too hard to please the people who came to look me over and what I did was to drive them away. “But then one day the head of the orphanage told me that a family was coming to take me home with them.

I was so excited that I jumped up and down and cried like a little baby. The matron reminded me that I was on trial and this might not be a permanent arrangement, but I just knew that somehow it would work out. “So I went with this family and started to school. I was the happiest little girl you can imagine, and life began to open up for me just a little. But then one day a few months later, I skipped home from school and ran into the front door of the big old house we lived in. No one was at home, but in the middle of the front hall was my battered suitcase with my little coat thrown across it. As I stood there it suddenly dawned on me what it meant—I didn’t belong there anymore.”

Miller reports that when the woman stopped speaking there was hardly a dry eye in the group. But then she cleared her throat and said almost matter-of-factly, “This happened to me seven times before I was 13 years old. But wait, don’t feel too badly. It was experiences like these that ultimately brought me to God—and there I found what I had always longed for—a place, a sense of belonging, a forever family.”

What message do we have for those who have felt as though they don’t belong…for those who have felt like they didn’t have a place?

What do we offer those who have only experienced “temporary” love…if you can even call it that.

“We live in a world of “battered suitcases” left in the hallway with our coats thrown across them!”

It’s no wonder John the Apostle says “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…God is love” because:

I. GOD IS THE ONLY SOLUTIONS TO THE PERMANENT LOVE WE LONG FOR

Gary Chapman wrote a great book called the 5 love languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.

He says, “inside every one of us is a love tank waiting to be filled…It is a primary human emotion I need to feel loved…

Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments. At the heart of humankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love. That is why the ancient biblical writings spoke of the husband and wife becoming “one flesh.” That did not mean that individuals would lose their identity: it meant that they would enter into each other’s lives in a deep and intimate way.

But if love is important, it is also elusive. I have listened to many married couples share their secret pain. Some came to me because the inner ache had become unbearable. Others came because they realized that their behavior patterns or the misbehavior of their spouse was destroying the marriage. Some came simply to inform me that they no longer wanted to be married. Their dreams of “living happily ever after” had been dashed against the hard walls of reality. Again and again I have heard the words “our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Their stories bear testimony that adults as well as children have “love tanks.”

Could it be that deep inside hurting couples, exists an invisible “emotional love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of that empty tank? If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that makes marriage work?

The lie this world teaches is that “falling in love…the initial feelings of “head over heels” and the “in love” experience will overcome any future problems.

It’s a lie…it’s not a love you can rely on permanently…eventually real life will enter the picture…and begin to empty that tank.

And as we talked about last week each of us will choose to sacrifice and submit to the needs of our mate…or let the god of this world and his philosophies suck the tank dry.

The Greeks had 4 different words for love
Storge: “I love you because you’re family.”
Eros: “I love you because I desire you physically.”
Phileo: “I love you because you’re my friend.”
Agape: “I love you no matter what…like God does.”

Agape love doesn’t stop…it doesn’t have conditions on it…it doesn’t trade love for love or like for like…It is totally unselfish and only looks at the needs of others…this is the word John uses when he writes GOD IS LOVE.

The only way that Agape love can exist in any person is that God lives in them.

“Whoever lives in love (agape) lives in God and God in them.” (vs. 16)

What does that really mean?

II. GOD UNPACKES HIS SUITCASE AND MOVES INTO OUR LIVES

Most of the time I travel I live out of my suitcase…even if there’s a dresser I usually don’t unpack, because it’s a short stay…I’m only gonna be in Jackson, or Joplin, or New Orleans for a week or so…it’s not my home…but when I get back to Kari and my family…I unpack…I put things where they belong…I live here…it’s home.

I’ve met people that live like their hearts are a hotel…God stays there while they’re good and loveable, but really doesn’t’ unpack…because the minute they mess up the room He leaves them…there’s no security in their relationship with God…and it certainly doesn’t feel like He’s even made their hearts His home…Instead of relying on His love…They live every day in fear of Him packing up and leaving…fear of His rejection never lets His love make them complete…or confident.

I heard this great quote the other day “Love is giving someone the power to destroy you…but trusting them not to.”

God could have destroyed us…we as rebels and sinners all deserve it…but He doesn’t want to destroy us…He wants to save us…the question is…do we trust Him and His Word.

Jesus has promised to return again for His beloved bride…He hasn’t yet…and God’s Word tells us why in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Jesus living in me is the only way I can understand this kind of love and patience…It’s the only way I can love Kari, my children and grandchildren, family, friends and enemies with a view of eternity…Agape love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love like this never fails…It’s permanent. (1 Cor. 13:7-8)

When Robert Browning came into her life, Elizabeth Barrett was a 39-year-old invalid. Daughter of a jealous & dominating father, her first 4 books of poetry had been published when she was just 12 years old. At 15 she injured her spine, & the resulting confinement in London affected her lungs, & she came to be regarded as a permanent invalid, doomed to spend her life in bed. But still she kept writing.

As time passed, the grief caused by the drowning of a brother, & her father’s refusal to allow any of his children to marry made her a recluse. Nearing 40, she seemed destined for a life of helplessness & gloom.

But the publication of one of her books brought about a correspondence with another poet, a man by the name of Robert Browning. He visited her, & then they wrote often to each other, with him encouraging her to try to get out of bed & make every effort to resume a normal life. But this met with strong resistance from her parents. And they resented Robert for even suggesting it.

They refused to allow him to visit her again, but the correspondence continued, & soon they were in love. Finally, more than a year later, she escaped the possessive vigilance of her father & they were secretly married. They immediately moved to Italy, & in that sunny climate it wasn’t long until she was strong & active once again.

Her parents disowned her, but she wrote almost every week, telling them that she loved them & longed for a reconciliation. After 10 years of writing to them, she received a huge box in the mail that contained all the letters she had ever sent. Not a one of them had been opened!

Our God continually sends us love letters. His Holy Spirit calls us to repentance from a life of sin…He calls us to new life and healing through the Son…a life of real love, where He will never stop filling our tank…Fear of punishment becomes overwhelmed with His gracious presence.

1 JOHN 4:9-13 (p. 857)

This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us…He has given us of His Spirit. We opened the love letter…and He moves into our hearts and lives…and makes His home there.

What can separate us from this love?

ROMANS 8:35-39 (p. 787)

God unpacks His suitcases and moves into our lives…and nothing in this world or beyond it…is more powerful than His love. “We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Do we view God as a loving Father who wants to restore a broken relationship with a rebellious child…who searches and runs after the prodigal…wanting and waiting for them to come home…or

Do we view God as a harsh Judge…wanting nothing more than to make us pay for our crimes…or break our probation, so He can punish us again? It makes a great difference in how we love our mates…and other people.

Let me end by saying

III. BECOMING COMPLETE IN OUR LOVE IS A PROCESS

“The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

The word for perfect also means “complete” or “doing what you were made to do.” A hammer is complete when it’s driving nails. A saw is perfect when it’s cutting wood. A child of God is complete and perfect when they are loving like Jesus.

[I came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit before my salvation. That conviction was a revelation of my sin…my rebellion…my lostness…It caused fear in my heart because I knew about Hell, and punishment…but mingled in that “call” was the message of the cross…“For God so loved me that He’d given His only Son…He loved me enough if I believed that I didn’t have to perish.

I would have never repented and turned toward God without both of these truths…fear and love. Both are evidences of God’s grace. Both are part of His “drawing us to Himself.”

But I have been on a continual journey of moving from fear to faith…so must you if we would be what God has made us to be. “Like Jesus in this world.” “Like Jesus in our home…Like Jesus in the way we love…complete, perfect.]

Conclusion:

[Moving from fear to love involves pushing through that fear we all have of getting hurt…or being embarrassed…or “just not wanting to step out of our comfort zone” into a place of faith…a place where we love real people in real ways…“Dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete (same word as perfect) in us.” (1 John 4:12)

[A little boy had been tucked into his bed and kissed goodnight when a thunderstorm came through…He yelled for his dad who came in and turned on a nightlight and said, don’t be afraid…God will protect you…and the little boy said, “I know that but right now I need someone with flesh on them.”]

Jesus was God in the flesh…people got to see Him when He was here on earth…but since His ascension back to heaven…He’s left His Spirit in His children so we could be like Jesus here on earth…loving our wives, our husbands, the broken and hurting in the flesh.

Let’s pray.

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Love Like You Mean It Main (1)

Love and Lust Have Different Agendas by Rick Burdette

1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8

Love Like You Mean It – Love and Lust Have Different Agendas
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (pg. 800) February 21, 2016

Introduction:

Proverbs 4:23 is a scripture we should absolutely commit to memory…even more than that, we should embed it in our souls…

“Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”

It’s the truth isn’t it…Our hearts are the springboard for the way we think…the way we speak…the way we act.

When the writers of the Old Testament, like Solomon use the word heart…they’re not talking about that muscle in our chest that pumps blood…they use the word “Leb.” It’s been defined as “the seat of a person’s emotional and intellectual life.” The three functions that each Hebrew understand, came from the “Leb” are “What we know, what we feel, and what we will.”

It’s exactly what Jesus says in the greatest commandment… “to love God with all your heart, soul and mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Real love involves what we think…what we feel and what we do…All of which flow from our hearts.

You can’t produce good fruit from a bad tree or vice versa…you can’t pump clean water from a stagnant pond.

And each of us have two powerful forces battling to own it…and each and every one of us surrender to one or the other of these forces…both have completely different agendas.

Miriam Webster defines “agenda” as “a plan or goal that drives someone’s behavior that is often kept secret.”

God doesn’t keep His plan or goal a secret…it’s been revealed in His Word… “God isn’t willing that anyone should perish but all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) God so loves the world that He gave His only son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Satan’s agenda is also revealed in God’s Word, but he keeps it a secret when he seeks our heart. “He’s a thief, a murderer, and a liar from the beginning.” (John 8:44, 10:10)
He comes to steal, kill and destroy.

God is love…it’s the motivation for why He seeks our hearts…like a Father seeks a lost child…Satan is the Evil One, he operates from “wrath, hatred…and Rev. 12 tells us his goal is to lead the whole world astray…He is filled with fury because he knows his time is short. (Rev. 12:9, 12). God uses His great love…The Adversary uses lust…both have a plan…and both have completely different agendas.

God loves like he means it…and Satan hates like he means it.

Let’s look at what that means when it comes to the ownership of our hearts.

I. LUST PUTS SELF FIRST…LOVE SACRIFICES FOR OTHERS

Lust isn’t just about sex…lust is about gratifying self…whether it’s pornography or power…lust says, “Meet my needs…I want something or someone…for ME.” Lust manipulates…lust gets angry and fights and quarrels to get its way…it’s the sinful part of everyone of our hearts…our desires that battle within us…God’s Word says, “you desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you don’t ask God when you ask, you do not received because you ask with wrong motives (wrong agendas) that you may spend what you get on YOUR pleasures.

Marriages…in fact any relationship where people’s hearts are fixated on pleasing self first, are identified by fights, quarrels, destruction (killing of others wants and needs).

That’s why many marriages that are built primarily upon physical attraction and sexual desire (all natural and God given) begin to dissolve when there is no real love…Agape, self sacrificing love…a love that can only be built on a self sacrificing God…the God given sexual desires and attractions are smothered with a flood of more powerful emotions…unforgiveness, control and regret…Couples begin to protect their hearts from pain and disappointment…instead of releasing them to love…it’s a satanic agenda…and by all appearances he’s very good at it.

Paul in our text says there’s a far better choice…a much more excellent way to live…The way of love.

The word “I” is used nine times in the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians 13…but then not used at all through love’s true definition…True love, Christ’s love, cannot exist in the land where “I” reigns supreme. I can speak amazing words…angelic words…I can teach the truth of scripture powerfully…I can even have a deep understanding of its truth. I can have a mountain moving faith in God…I can even sacrifice so I can boast about it…But if I don’t love…it’s about me…and it means nothing…The Message version says “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

Here’s what love looks like:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t’ have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

The only one who has done that perfectly in the flesh is Jesus…He felt the temptation of lust, in every form…but never sinned…He chose love every time. He felt the pull of Satan to choose Himself…and every time He chose me and you. EVERY TIME! All the way to the cross…and because of that His resurrection opened the door for me and you to go to heaven…“Amazing love how can it be? That you my King would die for me?”

II. CHOOSING TO REALLY LOVE IS NEVER EASY OR COMFORTABLE

[I’ve been married to Kari Pascal Burdette for almost 35 years…she is the person I love most here on earth… she is my best friend…But I still struggle with choosing self over her…there are countless times during every day I choose “selfish” things. I watch Law & Order while she does the dishes…I fell frustration when she asks me to do something…and she’s my best friend…the one I love most…What’s wrong with me?!]

A lot, right? But I’ve also discovered an encouraging truth…the same thing that’s wrong with me…is wrong with everyone…like the Apostle Paul I’ve discovered a Romans 7 truth:

ROMANS 7:21-24 (p. 786)

My heart delights in Jesus…My heart is guarded by His truth…but I live in a sinful, selfish, fallen shell. I find a spiritual battle waging within me for control. Good and evil are still choices I struggle with…It’s a war in my mind.

Paul says, “What’s up with that? Who can give me victory…who can give you victory? How can I be rescued from this battle?

He answers those questions in v. 25 “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Let me end today by revealing two very freeing truths about how Jesus delivers us:

1. The eternal war for our souls is won the moment we are born again spiritually.

It’s what Romans 8:1-4 tells us…without question:

ROMANS 8:1-4 (p. 786)

When God convicts and calls you by His Holy Spirit…when you repent of that sin and turn your life over to God. When you are baptized for the forgiveness of that sin and receive the promised gift of His Holy Spirit…You rise to walk in a new life.

The war is over…The condemnation of sin has been transformed to victory through Christ…You are born again…Adopted by God through His Holy Spirit…That Spirit now lives in you and me…our bodies become His dwelling place…His temple. The King and His Kingdom now live in us.

We who used to selfishly live by the flesh and Satan’s constant pull…now have an even greater influence… “God living in us.” Once we were slaves to sin….now we’re sons…and daughters.

But the 2nd freeing truth is…

2. We aren’t perfect children yet.

The spiritual war is won when we become God’s child, but the battle with sin isn’t.

We will still make selfish and sinful choices in our marriages and in our daily lives…there will be times we fail…when we lose a battle in this temporary uniform, some of those injuries will be terrible and deep…but Jesus still gives healing and victory…His love never fails…we overwhelmingly conquer through Christ who loves us. (Romans 8:37-39)

The victory comes because God’s Spirit doesn’t desert us…when we struggle with sin, even fall to it…He’s still there…fighting…listening to Him over our pride isn’t easy…but it’s essential for healing…John writes in his 1st letter these words of truth.

1 JOHN 1:8 – 2:2 (p. 855)

Our marriages, our lives will not be free from sin…we deceive ourselves if we think they will be.

But God isn’t pulling against us…He’s fighting for us…we have an advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous one…and He’s fighting for us at the right hand of God…He’s fighting for your marriage at the right hand of God!

Forgiveness and cleansing of guilt are what He accomplished on the cross…and right now for His children…His Spirit is the guardian of our hearts.

[I love this story by an amazing woman I got to meet while working at the 2014 NACC

Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic who was paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager, talks about her wedding day. She says, “I felt awkward as my girlfriends strained to shift my paralyzed body into a cumbersome wedding gown. No amount of corseting and binding my body gave me a perfect shape. The dress just didn’t fit well. Then, as I was wheeling into the church, I glanced down and noticed that I’d accidentally run over the hem of my dress, leaving a greasy tire mark. My paralyzed hands couldn’t hold the bouquet of daisies that lay off-center on my lap. And my chair, though decorated for the wedding, was still a big, clunky gray machine with belts, gears, and ball bearings. I certainly didn’t feel like the picture-perfect bride in a bridal magazine. I inched my chair closer to the last pew to catch a glimpse of Ken in front. There he was, standing tall and stately in his formal attire. I saw him looking for me, craning his neck to look up the aisle. My face flushed, and I suddenly couldn’t wait to be with him. I had seen my beloved. The love in Ken’s face had washed away all my feelings of unworthiness. I was his pure and perfect bride. How easy it is for us to think that we’re utterly unlovely — especially to someone as lovely as Christ. But he loves us with the bright eyes of a Bridegroom’s love and cannot wait for the day we are united with him forever.”

The writer of Revelation proclaimed: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:2-5).

Let’s Pray.

 

Love Like You Mean It Main (1)

 

Love That Submits and Surrenders by Rick Burdette

Ephesians 5:21-5:33

Love Like You Mean It – Love That Submits and Surrenders
Ephesians 5:21-33 (pg. 816) February 14, 2016

Introduction:

Did you know this about Valentine’s Day?

“Most believe the holiday finds its roots when Emperor Claudius II of Rome didn’t want men to marry during war time…But a Bishop named Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings. For this Valentine was jailed and executed. While in jail he wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter signing it “From Your Valentine.”

There are an average 220,000 wedding proposals on Valentine’s Day.

And also 3% op pet owners give their pet a Valentine.

1 Billion Valentine Cards will be exchanged this year…making it the 2nd largest card sending time of the year…Christmas is the first.

For those who are single February 14 is also “Single Awareness Day.” SAD (I’m not kidding). It’s designed so people can celebrate or to commiserate their single status.

Maybe this is why 15% of American women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Women will purchase almost 85% of all Valentine’s Day gifts.

Teachers receive the most cards…followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets.

And every Valentine’s Day the city of Verona where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet lived receives about 1,000 letters addressed to “Juliette.”

I love romance…I think Kari would describe me as “a romantic.” I like surprising her with special gifts at special times…whether it’s a yellow MG Midget for our 10th anniversary or a diamond ring on her 50th birthday (many of you all were there).

But the scary thing about romance is it can often be used “haphazardly, sporadically” as if the time in between the card, the car or the ring doesn’t matter.

I see the same thing happen many times with couples preparing to get married. The wedding day becomes so “central” that sometimes they forget…the “’til death do us part” part…June 27, 1981 was one day…A very special day…but 35 years later I can only remember parts of it, because of pictures.

For that reason I don’t believe any church should be in the “wedding day” business. Many get mad at that…but my calling and the church’s purpose is to glorify God and build men and women who are committed to Him and each other…if you don’t want that…then it’s about “A Day” and not the 35 years or 50 to follow…I’ve heard “But I want to get married in a church!” And I’ve shared “This is just a building…the Church is the body of Christ…the family of God…I want you to get married in it too.”

Important stuff for us to remember before we say “I do” and after.

I. SUBMISSION ISN’T JUST FOR WOMEN

Verse 21 in our text is essential if we are to understand the words that follow…It says “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

That “one another” isn’t gender exclusive…It’s not a guideline just to men or just to women…it’s a guideline for every believer.

Reverence for Christ means…We, both women and men…husbands and wives have made Him Lord…He’s in charge…He is the leader of our lives.

As we shared last week, God designed men and women in His image. He is the glue that binds them together as one flesh…Oneness…As we have accepted Christ’s Lordship, we become one body with Him. “For we are members of His body…for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the 2 will become one flesh…This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church.

This submission to Christ’s leadership through His Holy Spirit is essential to a healthy relationship with God…whether you are a husband or wife…it’s the starting place.

Yes it says “wives submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church, his body of which He is the Savior…Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

Remember this is written to the Christ revering wife…but often men read this and think, “Alright…I can make her do what I want!” It wasn’t written to you! We’ll get to your part later…it is a choice to submit…if you dominate, abuse, order submission it’s abuse of your own body…Jesus never beat someone into submission…or abused someone into submission…He called followers.

The Greek work used here…in both submission to Christ for men and women, and for wives in regard to their husband’s leadership is “Hupotasso”…it’s the same word used in regard to Church leadership…it’s never involuntary…it’s always voluntary.

Godly husbands aren’t dictators…They are much more like soldiers who take the point and die trying to get their platoon to safety.

[I’ve shared this with every couple I’ve ever married, and I’ll share it with every couple I ever will marry…This decision you’ve made to share your life with someone for 50 or 60 years is the 2nd most important one you’ll ever make…it will affect your life here on earth greatly…but the 1st most important decision is accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord…it’s eternal…and then I share, the responsibility of getting your family to heaven rests on both of you…but I tell the husband…you’re on point.]

I’ve had people ask me…But what if my husband isn’t “on point?” And what if my wife isn’t interested in helping get our family to heaven?

Did you know that before you said “I do” or did it happen after? Either way, It’s heartbreaking, but if you were a committed Christian and married an unbeliever…Please know that your priorities will be different from the get go…and unless they’re unfaithful or abandon you, scripture says “STAY” in hopes that you can sanctify your home…you might win him or her to Christ…and your children depend on you to get them to heaven…alone. (1 Cor. 7)

If there’s physical abuse…GET OUT…Call me or Kari, Natalie’s Sisters, Marissa Castellanos…It won’t stop…and you are to protect the temple of God your body and your children.

Also, you are always to obey God before men, even your husband or wife…Do so respectfully and gently…so they see your hope…but obey God first…Peter said.

1 PETER 3:15 (p. 851)

Easy…No! But God’s Word doesn’t’ warn us about this before we say “I do” for no reason…and eternity is always more important than the temporary…even if the temporary is our life here.

We need to remember that Ephesians 5 is written to men and women who have committed themselves to Christ and the eternal…so let me also say:

II. SACRIFICIAL LOVE ISN’T JUST FOR MEN

Ephesians 5 starts out “Follow God’s example therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (v1-2)

This isn’t just written to men, but everyone who is a child of God…men and women.

The hard part of our text is that “Husbands are supposed to be the model of doing this to their wives in our marriage.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” (v. 25)

My wife Kari is a strong, beautiful, confident, straight shootin’ woman. Choosing to let me be on point can’t be easy for her…but she does…we talk about everything, function as a team. She’s smart and sees things I can’t…but my wife respects my leadership.

Real respect is what most men look for above everything else…women want to be loved sacrificially…this doesn’t mean men don’t want to be loved or women don’t want to be respected…but whether this world likes it or not…God made us uniquely different…in his image.

It’s no wonder that Satan destroys marriages by using schemes that undermine a woman’s respect for her husband, and a husband’s sacrificial love for his wife. Belittling and coldness become walls that create distance, separation…not oneness. It becomes a caustic, continuous cycle…a merry go round from Hell that requires a radical change.

Men are physically stronger than women, or at least most of the time…so when this cycle occurs…many men try to control and intimidate their wives into submission…and the result…fear and resentment replace respect…Peter tells husbands:

1 PETER 3:7 (p. 851)

That word “weaker” doesn’t mean less valuable…it means “smaller in stature,” “less physically strong.”

Agape is the word used when husbands are told to love their wives like Christ.

Coty Pinckney said, “Agape is a love that gives, a love that does not demand or hold onto rights, but has the good of the other at heart. This is the love we need to work on in our marriage in order for our spouse to feel like he or she is married to Jesus.”

True Agape love really does begin at home in the way we treat our mates and our children.

Husbands your wife is your partner and a fellow heir of the glorious gift of life…and the way you love her affects your spiritual life like nothing else here on earth…wives, the same is true for you as well.

Let me end with this story:

In Max Lucado’s book the “Applause of Heaven” reads, Even though by the “book” I’m guilty, by God’s love I get another chance. Even though by the law I’m indicted, by mercy I’m given a fresh start.

“For it is by grace you have been saved … not by works, so that no one can boast.”

No other world religion offers such a message. All others demand the right performance, the right sacrifice, the right chant, the right ritual, the right seance or experience. Theirs is a kingdom of trade-offs and barterdom. You do this, and God will give you that. The result? Either arrogance or fear. Arrogance if you think you’ve achieved it, fear if you think you haven’t.

Christ’s kingdom is just the opposite. It is a kingdom for the poor. A kingdom where membership is granted, not purchased. You are placed into God’s kingdom. You are “adopted.” And this occurs not when you do enough, but when you admit you can’t do enough. You don’t earn it; you simply accept it. As a result, you serve, not out of arrogance or fear, but out of gratitude.

I recently read a story of a woman who for years was married to a harsh husband. Each day he would leave her a list of chores to complete before he returned at the end of the day. “Clean the yard. Stack the firewood. Wash the windows ….” If she didn’t complete the tasks, she would be greeted with his explosive anger. But even if she did complete the list, he was never satisfied; he would always find inadequacies in her work.
After several years, the husband passed away. Some time later she remarried, this time to a man who lavished her with tenderness and adoration.

One day, while going through a box of old papers, the wife discovered one of her first husband’s lists. And as she read the sheet, a realization caused a tear of joy to splash on the paper.

“I’m still doing all these things, and no one has to tell me. I do it because I love him.”
That is the unique characteristic of the new kingdom. Its subjects don’t work in order to go to heaven; they work because they are going to heaven. Arrogance and fear are replaced with gratitude and joy.

Let’s Pray.

 

Love Like You Mean It Main (1)

 

 

Before You Say “I Do” by Rick Burdette

Genesis 2:18-2:25

Love Like You Mean It – Before You Say “I Do”
Genesis 2:18-25 (pg. 2) February 7, 2016

Introduction:

God has some very strange arithmetic…You must become empty to be filled…you must become the least to be great…you must die to live.

And when it comes to marriage…one plus one equals one.

I never got past Algebra 2 in High School, and I often joke that I went to Bible College because I didn’t have to do math… “because God adds and multiplies so I don’t have to.”

But one plus one equaling one is impossible…even I know that!

And yet that is exactly what Genesis 2:24 is describing…“A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

One man…one woman…one flesh.

How does God do the impossible? Because Jesus says He does…In Luke 18:27 we read, “The things impossible with men are possible with God.”

Emptiness being filled to overflowing…Servants becoming great leaders…dead people being resurrected to new life.

And one man and one woman becoming one flesh…God specializes in the impossible.

This month the messages center around the theme “LOVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT.” We’ll deal with the difference between love and lust, what it really means to submit and surrender, and finally finding a love that lasts.

So today we start with what we should know from God’s Word before we say “I Do.” First:

I. MARRIAGE IS GOD’S IDEA

Can you be happy being single…or single again…Absolutely…In fact the Apostle Paul tells about the “gift of singleness” in his first letter to the Corinthians.

He’s writing to new believers who live in a very sexually promiscuous culture, some have been involved in adulterous relationships, immoral ones before marriage and homosexual ones…1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “That’s what some of you were, but you’ve been washed, sanctified and justified in Jesus’ name, and by the Spirit of our God.”

It’s a society that says “Gratify yourselves sexually any way you want…it’s all good.”

And Paul’s point is…“No…God has a plan…Husbands fulfill your wife’s needs…Wives fulfill your husband’s needs.”

Satan will use this to destroy you and your relationship if you let him. Don’t let him.

But Paul also shares a very honest truth…He’s single…or as most believe “single again.”

1 CORINTHIANS 7:32-35 (p. 275)

So in a society that has made sex it’s god he says…“If you’re able to focus only on God…His kingdom is more vital than “the affairs of this world.”

It’s healthy to pray for a godly man or woman to be your mate…but it’s even more important that you’re right with God before you do so.

One plus one equaling one can only truly happen if the man and woman involved in the equation trust the One who can unite them.

True fulfillment in a marriage doesn’t happen because your mate meets all your wants and needs…it happens because both partners put God first and then try to love each other unselfishly.

The key is 1 Corinthians 7:31 “For this world in its present form is passing away.”

God created us, male and female in His image…Each of God’s creation had the perfect partner…Except Adam…Adam named each of the animals, but when he looked around for his partner…no suitable one was formed.

“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh…Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of man, and He brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:21-22)

When the woman is brought to Adam, what did he call her…Beautiful, Honey, Baby? No! He called her “Eve” which means “mother of all.”

Not wife… “Mother” gives us an idea of God’s plan to be “fruitful and multiply and replenish the Earth” doesn’t it? By the way, this was the easiest command Adam ever received.

[“God let me get this straight…you want me to make love to this perfect woman in the most perfect garden ever…a lot? OK!]

The family is God’s creation…and His plan…Children are His gift…eternal souls that never existed before…and will never go out of existence. This is the foundation of all creation…no wonder Satan attacked it viciously…and still does…no wonder he attacks life at conception…the evil one knows its value!

Men and women are created in the image of God…we are created to have a relationship with our Creator that flows into our oneness with our mate. It lets us understand our primary purpose…and it makes us distinctly different from all other of God’s earthly creations.

For this cause a man leaves his mother and father’s home…and begins His own family. He and his wife are united and they shall become one flesh.

Intimacy…because of God given desires…children…Husband and wife…united at it’s conception…and it’s continued journey…the family… “who can doubt the divine authority of marriage.” One plus one equals one.

This is one of the most important truths we should know before we say “I Do.”

We were made by God and for God – and until we understand that, life will never make sense.

II. NO CHILD IS AN ACCIDENT

Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life got it right when he wrote:

You are not an accident. Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth. In fact, he expected it.

Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God. He thought of you first. It is not fate, nor chance, nor luck, nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment. You are alive because God wanted to create you! The Bible says, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.”

God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature. He custom-made your body just the way he wanted it. He also determined the natural talents you would possess and the uniqueness of your personality. The Bible says, “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book!”

Long before we were conceived by our parents we were conceived in the mind of God.

While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children…Many children are unplanned by their parents…maybe even unwanted…But they are not unplanned or unwanted by God! God’s purpose took into account human error, even sin. God never does something accidentally, and He never makes mistakes.

Isaiah 44:2 says “I am your creator. You were in my care even before you were born.”

Before we say “I do” we must understand we were created by God and for God.

Please know just because you have no children or cannot have children doesn’t mean your marriage cannot be used for God’s purposes or filled with joy…but children are the gift of God for many of us…and it is absolutely essential we realize “They are eternal souls…created by God…trusted into our care…and our influence as moms and dads, nanas and papaws will either give them an eternal foundation or a worldly one.

It was God’s plan from the beginning…and it still is.

[I’m not sure Kari and I strategically planned the birth of any of our four children. We planned when we didn’t want children. We wanted children…and our 1st was born over 2 years after we said “I Do.” And our 4th was born 11 years after…9 months to the day we returned from our 10th anniversary trip to Gatlinburg (I wanted to go sight seeing). We always laugh about this because we ministered at a little church in Willisburg called Antioch…Randall Barnett’s dad, O’Rear Barnett was one of the elders there and he was an amazing man, but frugal too. He said, “You’re not gonna have any more kids are you?” And I said, “O’Rear, I’m not sure we planned any of the three”…so when Karissa was born in March of 1992 during a snow storm…The first thing I did was call O’Rear and tell him and Ruby…and ask for a raise (lol).]

God had a plan for my beautiful daughter Karissa, and Ricky, Tyler and Cyndi. We might not have known His timing, but He did!!!

I love this poem by Russell Kelfer:

You are who you are for a reason.
You’re part of an intricate plan.
You’re a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God’s special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb.
You’re just what He wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones He chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master’s seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into His likeness you’d grow.

You are who you are for a reason,
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!

When a man leaves his father and mother’s family…And he is united to his wife in one flesh…This is God’s plan for all of creation.

The family is His foundation.

Let me end with this final thought:

III. SIN CAUSES SHAME…INNOCENCE CREATES INTIMACY

Verse 25 “The man and his wife were naked and felt no shame.”

That verse is essential to understand before we say, “I do.” Sin separates us…causes us to hide and cover up…Innocence creates “oneness”…free from guilt and shame.

We “ALL” sin…husbands, wives…and we have a choice…hide from God like Adam and Eve…create an atmosphere of blame: “the woman did it,” “the snake caused me to do it.” Maybe even blame God: “You gave her to me.”

Before you say “I do” make a commitment to be naked before God…and forgiving towards each other…so you can be one.

Remember God made us for a relationship with Him…and He made us male and female, in His image for a relationship with our mate.

Sin and selfishness disrupts both when we hide and cover up.

Conclusion:

[Adam and Eve had something very special…a relationship with God where they walked with Him in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening…a bond of openness because there was no sin…no sin…no shame…sin changed all that…it always does.

I’ve never sat with a couple in counseling before they say “I do” and have them say… “Oh, by the way…in a couple years we’re gonna divorce…We’re going to let the alcohol, pornography, pride and unfaithfulness destroy the innocence we have right now…OK.”

But I’ve talked with hundreds that I’ve married and others have married that have ended up “covering their hurts and sin, and hiding from God and each other to the degree that that’s exactly what happens.”

Before we say I do and for our marriage afterward, I’ll end by saying…“God created us for a purpose…and when we forget that purpose…our relationship with Him and our family will not be the same.]

Let’s pray.