Tag Archives: marriage

Song Of Solomon; Pursuing Love

Who doesn’t want to be loved? Unless there is mental illness or emotional baggage, I think all of us would admit a longing to be loved, passionately, exclusively, intentionally loved by another. The entertainment business thrives on the topic of love because they know love is the driving force behind nearly everything we do.

But I wonder, then, why there are so many divorces because one or both parties have “fallen out of love.” Friend, the Bible is pretty clear that true love is never out of our control. You don’t believe the lie that says “you can’t help who you love,” do you?

The Song of Songs is a beautiful picture of the passionate, exclusive, intentional love we all long for. In here you will see the man and woman seeking each other at various times. You know that sometimes your spouse needs you to take the initiative, don’t you? Sometimes you need to be the one to reach out, to plan something romantic or surprise them with something special. One person can’t always be the instigator of affection because true love is a two way street.

You will see in Solomon’s Song that neither of the lovers is willing to simply listen to what someone else has to say about their loved one. The watchman said one thing, the lover went and checked it out personally.

You will see examples of the couple taking time for each other, to study each other, to rest in each other while shutting away the rest of the world. You will see mistakes, and forgiveness, a love that thinks less of what it takes than what it gives.

Your marriage depends on the choices you make, not just the feelings you feel.

And so does your relationship with God. Everything in the Song of Solomon that applies to marriage applies to a healthy relationship with our Savior.

We know that He pursues us. Do we pursue Him, too? Do we spend time in His Word and in prayer? Do we long to know Him passionately, exclusively, intentionally the way He longs to know us?

Do we reach out to Him during the day? I remember watching my parents, the way Dad would reach out and touch Mom’s hand, or pat her leg. No words, just that gentle touch that said “I love you.” Do we, likewise, let God know during our day that we are loving Him, too?

All of us long to be passionately, exclusively, intentionally loved, AND WE ARE, if we know the Lord.

Let’s determine to nurture that love, and love God passionately, exclusively, and intentionally back.

September 25 – But I Just Want To Be Married

Ezra 7-10

If you are single, you would probably agree it’s not easy meeting people these days. If you’re a Christian, do you really want to go bar hopping in hopes of meeting Mr or Ms Right? Churches aren’t necessarily a hot spot for young singles to meet. The internet is scary, and your dear aunt might mean well, but her friend’s nephew just isn’t your type. Your married friends find married friends, and you find yourself tempted to settle for the next single person who comes along.

Don’t.

The Bible uses marriage as an example of the relationship between God and His people. It’s sacred and holy and exclusive and self-sacrificing, and blessed by God if the two are of one mind and heart. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) is not a suggestion.

Read Ezra’s book to see how serious God is about that.

I believe this is a warning to any of you who are dating a non-believer. You might think you can bring that person around, or that their lack of interest in church is no big deal. Please, think again.

I have no magic potion that will cause your perfect spouse to appear. I can only pray that you will nurture your relationship with your Heavenly Bridegroom, and not settle for someone who doesn’t love Him as much as you do.

Dear God, you created men and women for a reason. When you said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, you created Eve. It’s not easy being single. But I know for a fact that being single is not the end of the world. I know that being single is better than being in an unhealthy marriage. And I know that when a Christian is married to a non-Christian, there are added problems and temptations You do not want us to experience. So, Father, would you protect Your single children out there? I pray that they will wait for Your timing, that they will be busy doing things You prompt them to do in sharing the Gospel. Would You give each one direction until they meet that person who will encourage them in their relationship with You, who will glorify You in a marriage? Give strength and patience that will lead to a lifetime of serving You with a godly husband or wife.

To Wed or Not to Wed

Paul talks a lot about marriage and, as some would say, he doesn’t seem to be a fan. But as I read I Corinthians 7 today, I wondered if that was really the case. He’s asking the question, should a person marry or not? And it sounds like he’s advising against it. But didn’t God create Eve because it wasn’t good for man to be alone? How do you make sense of these two seemingly contrary viewpoints?

I hope you read Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. I think you’ll agree that the Apostle isn’t talking about marriage as much as he is talking about serving God. A single person can be single-minded concerning the Kingdom of God. A married person has divided loyalties and responsibilities.

My sister Peggy is retired. She attends church faithfully, is active in a Bible study, visits elderly women from her church, helps to organize funeral dinners, takes time to have lunches with unsaved friends. She fills her days serving God. But she always lets her husband know where she is, when she’ll be home, and she schedules her activities around his own schedule of activities. It’s not that she doesn’t have a vital ministry. It’s that she has the added responsibility to her husband.

Our sister Kathy has a full time job, a husband and teenage son at home, and grandchildren she enjoys spending time with. Her heart for the Lord is as passionate as Peggy’s. But the demands on her time and responsibilities offers her less opportunities for other ministries.

I’m single. If I want, I can spend all day at the church fixing food for our community free dinner every month. I can lead a Bible study, spend time searching God’s Word, or spend hours blogging at my computer. I could volunteer at the homeless shelter, take meals to shut-ins, sit with a sick friend all night. And I don’t have anyone living in my home with whom I need to be accountable.

That’s Paul’s point. He’s not anti-marriage. He just wants us to know that married people have divided loyalties and responsibilities. He said he wishes we all were like him, free to serve God at any time of the day or night.  But he doesn’t say married people can’t have an important ministry.

What I take from these verses is a challenge. Before anyone marries, they need to understand what that will do to ministry opportunities. Ministries and marriages have failed because of the difficulty of that balancing act. (Isn’t that why we are warned not to be yoked with unbelievers? Just saying.)

Are you married? I hope you are praising God for the privilege of sharing your life with another. You are blessed. But you are not off the hook. It’s going to be a bit more difficult for you, perhaps. But find where you are needed in God’s work. Get involved in service. Teach a Sunday School class, or get on the visitation team. Sing in the choir, or volunteer to pull weeds at the church. You’ll have to coordinate your activities with your spouse. But do it!

Are you single? I would challenge you to fill up your time with activities that honor God, that further the Kingdom, and that can easily be done by you who don’t have the accountability of having a spouse. What a privilege we have!

The question Paul is addressing isn’t marriage. It’s service, obedience to God, being zealous about sharing Jesus.

May God find us all faithful, regardless of our marital status!

Sex=Love? Not even close!

Oh that young people would learn from the account in 2 Samuel 13, the lives of Amnon and Tamar. 

Lesson 1: Lust and obsession are not love. Amnon’s feelings for his sister had nothing to do with her. He didn’t long to make her happy, he only wanted to satisfy his own desires. I Corinthians 13 says, “Love is not self-seeking”. What Amnon felt was not love.

Lesson 2: Sex is not “making love”. Sex may be a beautiful expression between a married man and woman who already love each other. But having sex does not make someone love someone else. I wish that message would be heard today.

Lesson 3: Sex changes everything. After Amnon stole Tamar’s virginity he looked at her and hated her. He had used her and threw her away. “Love is kind.” Amnon was anything but kind.

I hope you read I Corinthians 13, Paul’s description of love. You won’t see Amnon there. And you won’t see any adolescent I have ever met. And I spent 37 years in public education, 20 of them as a middle school counselor.

Our young people are having what they describe as casual sex. They are performing sexual acts on one another and trying to convince themselves that what they’re doing is not sex. They believe the lie that sex is no big deal. But they are wrong.

Innocence lost way too soon, way before their underdeveloped minds and emotions are able to deal with it.

Having sex changes a person. God didn’t forbid sex outside of marriage out of spite. God invented fun! He wants us to experience fun. But the aftermath of premarital sex is not fun. God demands we save sex after that public commitment we know as a wedding ceremony for a reason. God wants to protect us from emotional pain, guilt, physical diseases, loss.

What Amnon did ruined his life, it ruined Tamar’s life, and it ruined his family. That, my friend is not love.

Dear young person, don’t listen to Satan’s lies. Don’t get caught up in the popular notion that sex is no big deal. It is a very big deal. And God blesses sex after marriage. Not before. Not in any shape or form. If you think you are different, that you can handle it, you are proving that you are too immature to have sex.

If you have already given your virginity away to someone and you’re not married to that person, stop. Talk to someone… a parent, a pastor, a Christian adult friend, about what it means to live a pure life from today on. And if you are still a virgin, hold on to it. You can only give it away once. And it’s a precious gift you will want to give to your husband or wife when the time comes.

 

Trust God. He really does know what he’s talking about.

 

November 26

I Corinthians 5-7

I know Paul appears to be anti-marriage and has been accused of being a woman-hater. But I don’t see that. Paul is frantically trying to win lost souls. He is consumed with this mission and devotes every waking minute to sharing the Gospel. And he wishes everyone was like him.

Years ago when my sisters and friends were changing diapers, sitting at their kitchen tables helping with math homework, going to soccer games and dance lessons, I was not. During that time I took on responsibilities at church – teaching Sunday School, coaching our quiz team, singing in the choir, playing the organ, serving on the board, typing the bulletin. I did not have a husband waiting dinner or children to care for.

Now I am not telling you this to hear how wonderful it was that I did all that. It is at it should be. My sisters and friends were not wrong for devoting their energies toward their families. I wish more young people today would make their children and spouses more of a priority. (see Paul’s advice to married couples in 7:1-7)

But to those of us who are not married or who are married without children, we need to pick up the slack. We need to make God’s work our baby, our focus. It’s not to say moms and dads shouldn’t be actively involved in the ministry of their churches. But let’s face it. Some of us just have more time and we fill that time up with the things that are the most important to us. Where does Christ fit in your busy schedule?

Paul said the time is short. There is work to be done, souls that need saving. We who can should be focused and busy sharing Jesus. Just like Paul.

Father, I pray for married couples and parents today. May they depend on you for the strength to meet the challenges living with others affords. I pray they will choose to be faithful to each other, to make their families a priority, and to be quick to share you with neighbors and friends as you give opportunity. I pray for unmarried people. May we take the times others use for raising children to doing as much for your kingdom as we can. I pray we all will make you our priority and, like Paul, devote every waking minute to sharing the Gospel.

September 17

Ezra 8:15-10:44; I Chronicles 3:17-24

Many Israelites had married foreign wives. It was an act of blatant disobedience toward God. The marriages themselves weren’t the only problem. The Israelite men allowed their foreign wives to bring their false religions into their homes.

The New Testament warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why is that? What’s the big deal?

We are commanded to be holy as God is holy. He does not tolerate sin, he does not condone sin, he is not in the presence of sin. And he demands the same of us. We are to guard our hearts. We are to flee temptation. We are to live lives set apart so God can be revealed in our lives. There is a thin line between being involved in the lives of unsaved friends in order to win them to the Lord and being legally, financially, emotionally identified with them.

The Israelites we read about in Ezra had to send their wives and any children they had by them back to their foreign countries. Their association with those idol worshipers had to stop no matter how deeply “in love” they were.

I don’t know what relationships you are in. But if you are dating a non-Christian I can tell you without hesitation you have to end it. The Bible is so clear about that. Trust God to honor your obedience. Don’t expect him to bless you if you are disobeying him.

If you are already married to a non-believer I’m not going to pretend to know how to counsel you. Maybe you went into the relationship unequally yoked or maybe you have become a believer since your wedding day. All I know is that you are going to have to work hard to stay true to God. 

What do you do if your spouse begs you to sleep in Sunday morning because that’s the only time you have together this week? What do you do if your spouse wants you to run errands together during the time you have set aside to read your Bible? What happens when your spouse wants to take the kids shopping or fishing instead of them going to church with you? The choices are endless and difficult. You will spend your life balancing being a godly man or woman, a loving and supportive spouse, a parent raising children to honor God, and a person caught in the middle.

God’s demand that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers wasn’t given because God is a buzz-kill. It was given so that our lives would be better, happier, our homes more loving and united. I’m not advocating divorce on the basis that a spouse isn’t a Christian, don’t get me wrong. God hates divorce. I am advocating Christians date only Christians, however. And I am certainly telling you God demands Christians marry only Christians.

If you are in a dating relationship with a non-believer I am praying that you will have the courage to walk away before it’s too late. If that relationship is more important than God’s will for your life you have already brought an idol into your home.

If you are in an unequally yoked marriage I am praying for you today. May God give you strength and resolve to follow him without compromise. I pray for your spouse that he or she will see in you something that is better than what they have without God. I pray for wisdom, for love, for patience, for confidence, and direction.

May God be glorified in all our relationships.