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God's Power for Your Marriage

Marriage Series by Rick Warren  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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TEXT: Ephesians 1:15-23
TOPIC: GOD'S POWER FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
The Secrets of a Satisfying Marriage - Part 1 of 12
Bobby Earls, (Acknowledgement is given to Rick Warren for Sermon series)
September 6, 1998, FBI
It was Andy Stanley who preached a sermon recently in which he encouraged his people to "factor in God." As we begin this new series of messages directed at marriage, a series I have entitled "The Secrets of a Satisfying Marriage," that's what I encourage you to do. "Factor in God."
Today's message title is God's Power for Your Marriage. In other words, "How God Can Help My Marriage." If you're in a struggling marriage, factor in God. If you've been married for 20 or more years and your marriage is as about exciting as watch grass grow, factor in God. If you're just starting out in marriage and you want your marriage to be strong and healthy, factor in God. If you're planning on marriage in the near future, factor in God! If you're single and you think a miracle might yet happen, factor in God.
It was the Apostle Paul writing to the Christians of the first century world in the ancient yet sophisticated city of Ephesus who reminded them to remember the power of God available to each them to help them be successful in all of life's endeavors, including marriage. (Read Ephesians 1:15-23)
"How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God ... the same power demonstrated when Christ was raised from the dead." Eph. 1:19-20 (Ph)
There are three important points in any relationship we need to understand if we are to have a healthy relationship. Even if you're single today, this message can relate to you since all relationships have the same three basic stress points:
* Unexpected differences-You find that the person you're relating to is more different than you thought they were.
* Unmet needs-all of us bring certain needs into any relationship. When they're not met it causes stress.
* Unforgiven mistakes-One of the problems we have as human beings is that we hold onto our hurts of the past. We refuse to forget and forgive. This always causes stress and problems in any relationship.
Even when we know we have these problems in our marriage the common complaint I hear is "I feel there's nothing I can do. I feel powerless to change it."
I've got good news for you. What you cannot do, God can! Factor in God.
HOW GOD CAN HELP MY MARRIAGE?
God can give you the power to fathom your mate's differences, the power to fulfill your mate's needs and the power to forgive your mate's mistakes.
1. The Power to "Fathom" My Mate's Differences
I chose the word "fathom" -- I know it's not a word we use a whole lot. It means "to understand the depth of something." If you're going to have a successful, satisfying marriage you have to understand the depth of the differences between you and your husband or you and your wife. The number one complaint I hear all the time, "I just don't understand him." or "She just doesn't make sense" or "I can't figure him out" or "I don't know why he acts that way." Welcome to the club!
The Bible says in I Cor. 2:11 "No one can really know what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like, except that person himself." (LB) Only that person can know.
Before Penny and I got married, all we could see was how alike we were. The day after the wedding... all we could see was how different we were. We are so different. I think it is God's humor that He loves to put opposites together and watch the sparks fly.
If you're like most couples,
One of you is an early riser, the other one is a night owl.
One of you is daring and impulsive, the other is cautious and reserved.
One of you says, "I play by the rules," the other says, "Forget the rules!"
One of you loves to talk, the other is a bump on the log.
One of you loves to spend money, the other is a tightwad.
One of you loves to cuddle, the other is a porcupine.
Sex: One of you is a firecracker, the other is a dud.
One of you says, "Drop everything!", the other says "Drop dead!"
Like the guy who went home and handed his wife two aspirin. She asked "What's that for?" He said, "For your headache." She said, "I don't have a headache." He said, "Gotcha."
One of you is neat and organized and on time, the other is "flexible", mellow, late.
Differences aren't wrong, they're just different and maturity is when you realize that differences doesn't mean right or wrong -- it just means we're different. Differences bring balance to a marriage. You need a balance. You eat with a knife and fork, not two knives. The greater your differences, the greater your potential for growth in marriage.
The marriages that I see that are in the most problems, are where the two are exactly alike -- same weakness, same problems and they're bored to tears with each other. God allows those differences in your marriage for your growth.
The first foundation is to understand that God wants to give you the power to fathom -- understand the depth -- of your mate's differences. You really, really are different. God wants to work in your life if you'll let Him.
I Peter 3:7 "You husbands should try to understand the wife you live with..." Circle the word "try" -- it takes great skill. Men and women are inheritantly different in thousands of ways.
We're different biologically. Every cell in a man's body is different from every cell in a woman's body -- genetically by "X" and "Y" chromosomes. We're different. Women mature faster. They have a slower metabolism. (That's why a man can gobble down a couple of hamburgers, a hotdog or two, a pack of fries, onion rings, a 1/2 dozen colas and top it off with a banana split and not gain an ounce. On the other hand, a woman can walk in a room and just smell the same food and gain a pound and a half) We're different.
We're different behaviorally. We think different. Men assume that women think like men. Women assume that men think like women. We don't. We think very differently. What a man says tends to reflect what he thinks. What a woman says tends to reflect what she feels. We're on different plains. You need to be aware of that.
We're different in background. Not only is every woman different from every man, but every woman is different from every other woman. And every man is different from every other man. We're all unique. It's no wonder we don't understand each other.
Yet this is the first foundation for a successful marriage. Proverbs 24:3, "Homes are built on the foundation of wisdom and understanding." How do you know when you have wisdom and understanding? You're patient and you don't compare. You understand the differences. Understanding -- fathoming -- is the first foundation of a successful marriage.
When you try to understand and can't, what do you do? "If you lack wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all."James 1:5
2. The Power to Fulfill My Mate's Needs
God designed marriage, love, sex. The purpose is to mutually benefit each other. You have some basic needs, your spouse has some basic needs. God intends for you to meet each other's needs in marriage.
"The man should fulfill his duty as a husband and the woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs." 1 Cor. 7:3 (GN)
Circle "satisfy". You have some basic needs. I'm going to do a session for men only -- "Understanding the Five Basic Needs of Women". And at the same time my wife is going to do a session for women only "Understanding the Five Basic Needs of Men". Do yourself a favor and don't miss it. If you're single and there's any possibility that you will ever get married, don't miss it.
Men, you need to understand that women want men to fulfill their needs without them having to tell us what they are, without having to draw a diagram. But the fact is, ladies, we're just not that smart.
Illustration: A couple were seeing a counselor for marriage problems. The wife refused to talk to her husband. Week after week, the counselor tried to get the wife to open up, but nothing worked. Finally on the seventh visit, the counselor walked over to the woman and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She lit up, reached over and hugged her husband and began to tell him all of the stress she'd been going through the past three months. The counselor said, "Mr. Jones, that kiss represents the kind of treatment your wife needs every day." The husband said, "Doc, I can bring her in on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I'm not sure about the rest of the week."
Typical. Men just don't get it sometimes. We're on different wavelengths. Meeting your mate's needs is a skill that must be learned. It's not automatic. Just because you got married does not mean you know how to meet the needs of your wife or husband. You don't, most likely. Meeting the needs of your mate takes skill that must be learned.
Article in the paper talking about the marriage between two TV stars, Connie Seleca and Gil Girard. It said they were introduced by a friend on an airplane and they got married two months later. Real quick. Seleca says, "It was infatuation. We had to learn to love each other. We did our courting after marriage. I discovered he wasn't Prince Charming and he discovered I wasn't Cinderella. If we hadn't been married the relationship probably wouldn't have worked. It would have ended. We learned how to talk in our four years together." She says the word "learned" twice. You've got to learn to meet the needs of your mate.
I think about 80% of the problems in marriage would be solved by this next verse.
Phil. 2:4 "Look out for each other's interests, not just for your own." The root problem in marriage? Beneath it all, it's selfishness. Serve my needs and forget about yours. People don't like to come to me for counseling because I say, "You just need to be unselfish. Grow up."
Have you noticed how the focus shifts after you get married? Before marriage the focus is "What can I do to please you?" That's called dating. After you get married it's "Get it yourself!" What happened? There was a shift in focus.
We really feel uncomfortable with this verse, "Look out for each other's interests, not just for your own." It contradicts culture. Culture says, Look out for Number One. "I've got to do what's best for me!" I hate that statement. Who says? It's called immaturity. You've got to do a lot of things that aren't best for you, but are best for other people. Grow up! It's a selfish, self-centered attitude.
It's not only culture, it's our nature. If I took a picture of everyone present today and then gave it to you, who would you look for first? Yourself. If you look good in the picture, the picture is great. It doesn't matter if every one else is cross-eyed with spinach in their teeth, if you look great the picture is great. When you take this attitude into marriage, it causes all kinds of problems.
You say, "Where am I supposed to find the energy and power to meet the needs of my mate when I'm worn out?" Phil 2:13 "God, who is at work within you, will give you the will and the power to achieve his purpose." Whatever God ask you to do (expects you to do) He always empowers you to do. If He says, meet the needs of your mate, He'll give you the power. That's why you need God. It takes three to make a marriage work: a husband, a wife, and God. It's like a three-legged stool. If you take God out of the picture, you've got a two-legged stool. It's going to fall over. That's why the divorce rate is soaring in America. Marriage is God's idea. He says, I want to have the husband, wife and Me; I'll make the two, one. I don't know how people make it without the Lord in their lives and marriage. Many don't.
God says He wants to help you, empower you, to meet the needs of your mate. Because human love wears out. There are some times I run dry. There are some times I don't love my wife. There are some times when I'm fatigued I want to be alone, I don't want to be around anybody. I have nothing to give. But it's at that point in my life I say, "God, Your power never runs dry. Your love never runs dry. Love Penny through me." And He gives me the power to meet the needs of my wife when I don't have the energy to do it if I trust in Him.
3. THE POWER TO FORGIVE MY MATE'S MISTAKES
If you haven't learned the two laws of reality yet, you will eventually. The two laws of reality are this: Number one, You married an imperfect person. Number two, You're not so hot yourself. When two imperfect people get in a marriage, they hurt each other. Even when they love each other, they hurt each other -- sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.
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When your mate makes a mistake you've got two options: rub it in or rub it out. The Bible teaches that unforgiveness kills the spirit of a marriage.
"It is better to dwell in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging mate." Prov. 21:19 (AAT) You can bury your marriage with a lot of little digs. You undermine it.
Lady came into the Justice of the Peace and said, "I want a divorce. My husband is a jerk." He said, "But you promised to take him for better or for worse." She said, "Yeah, but he's a lot worse than I took him for."
Ephesians 4:31 "Let there be no more bitter resentment or anger, no more shouting or slander, and let there be no bad feelings of any kind among you." Don't hold onto your hurts. Some of you have a partner who has made a major mistake. Major mistake. Maybe it was months or years ago. And you've never let them off the hook. You're killing your marriage. You are doing it. You have become an unpleasable spouse. No matter what they do for you, how good, nice, kind, romantic, gentle, whatever... in the back of your mind, you have this scale that says, "Yes, they did that good but they did all that bad." No matter what they do good for you, in the back of your mind you're thinking, "They owe it to me." By keeping score you are killing your marriage. That's as clear as I can say it. You need to let go of that hurt for your marriage's sake.
How? How do you deal with the hurt? "Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." If you want to learn how to be forgiving, remember how much you're forgiven. Whenever I need to be forgiving to others, I just remember how much God has forgiven me. No one will ever hurt me more than I've hurt the Lord. No one will ever disappoint me more than I've disappointed God.
Maybe the problem of why you're having a hard time being forgiving is because you don't really feel forgiven. Maybe that's the real issue in your marriage. You need to experience the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, He died on the cross to take care of all my sins so I could be forgiven. When I really feel forgiven by God, guilt free, clear conscious -- not because I deserve it but because of His grace, because He loves me -- then I am a little bit more forgiving. Because of what God has done for me, I want to offer forgiveness to others. Maybe that's the issue, you need to accept Christ's forgiveness.
This is the issue a lot of you need to face. Before you feel like understanding your mate's differences, before you feel like fulfilling your mate's needs, you've got to forgive their mistakes first. That's a big barrier. Don't go looking somewhere else. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. And the grass is not greener on this side of the fence. The grass is greener where you water it. How much effort are you putting into your marriage? You need to say, "God, whatever it takes. I'm going to commit myself to making this work."
How satisfying is your marriage? You probably fall in one of four categories?
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1. Our marriage is fantastic, it's great, and we intend to keep it that way.-- You are rare.
2. Our marriage is good, it's stable, but there's just no spark in it. We're kind of in a rut.
3. Our marriage is hurting. There's some issues that need to be resolved in it right now.
4. Our marriage is barely hanging on. It may not last a couple of months. If we don't get a miracle from God, it won't stick together.
Our church is committed to building strong marriages and families. As your pastor I am committed to helping your marriage succeed. If Christianity doesn't work in your home, it doesn't work. But maybe the issue for some of you is you need to go back and accept God's forgiveness first, so you can get over the hump and be forgiving.
I read these statistics recently, Marriage and Divorce Magazine, 1980, March 24th issue. They did a national survey -- one done by Harvard University. They discovered that in America the divorce rate is one out of every three marriages. But when the couple is married in a church ceremony, it drops to one out of fifty ending in divorce. But when a couple is married in a church ceremony, attend church regularly, they pray together, and they read the Bible together, the divorce rate drops to one out of 1,105 marriages. That's the difference God makes. It's stupid not to have God in your marriage. In today's culture, I don't know how couples stick together without Him. When you depend on God's power to help you, as He wants to, that's what happens.
Prayer:
As we close think about, Have I ever received God's forgiveness. God wants to clear your conscious. He wants to forgive you for everything you've ever done. Jesus Christ died on the cross to make that possible. You don't have to understand it all, you just have to accept it. As you grow you will grow in your understanding of it. Today, I want to invite you to say, "Yes" to Jesus Christ. Say, "Yes, God, I want to receive Your forgiveness" in your own heart. You don't have to say it aloud. God will hear your thoughts. Say, "Jesus Christ, as much as I know how, come into my life. Save my marriage and save my life. Make me the person You want me to be. I want to commit my life to You."
FBI SERMON NOTES
GOD'S POWER FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
The Secrets of a Satisfying Marriage - Part 1 of 12
Ephesians 1:15-23
Bobby Earls, September 6, 1998, First Baptist Icard
"How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God ... the same power demonstrated when Christ was raised from the dead." Eph. 1:19-20 (Ph)
Three stress points in a relationship:
* Unexpected __________________
* Unmet ________________
* Unforgiven ___________________
HOW GOD CAN HELP MY MARRIAGE
He can give me
1. The Power to "___________" My Mate's______________
"No one can really know what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like, except that person himself" I Cor. 2:1 (LB)
"You husbands should try to understand the wife you live with ..." 1 Peter 3:7 (Ph)
"Homes are built on the foundation of wisdom and understanding." Prov. 24:3 (GN)
"If you lack wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all ..." James 1:5
2. The Power to ______________ My Mate's _____________
"The man should fulfill his duty as a husband and the woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs." 1 Cor. 7:3 (GN)
"Look out for each other's interests, not just for your own." Phil. 2:4(GN)
"God, who is at work within you, will give you the will and the power to achieve his purpose." Phil. 2:13 (Ph)
3. The Power to _______________ My Mate's ____________
"It is better to dwell in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging mate." Prov. 21:19 (AAT)
"Let there be no more bitter resentment or anger, no more shouting or slander, and let there be no bad feelings of any kind among you." Eph. 4:31 (Ph)
"Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."
Col. 3:13 (LB)
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