What does it mean for us to refer to ourselves as Christian? Do I acknowledge that Jesus came, lived and died for my sins? Do I attend church even? Do I have a Bible beside my bed, or even an app in my phone?
Do these things make us a Christian, or are they something anyone can do, even perhaps satan, who knows all to well that Jesus came to die for our sins, spends his time around more churches than we do, and while he may not keep a bible besides his bed or have an app on his phone, definiteley knows Gods Word more than any scholar who has ever lived. He is after all “the father of lies” (John 8:44) and can only have established every lie devoid of God in this world, by first knowing the truth.
As I continue to write here, my goal is two fold. One, to encourage those who may well be feeling anxious, paranoid, neurotic, depressed and even lost, and two, to also rebuke those who would hold to the title Christian, while not actually acknowledging that this also means following Jesus. Somewhere in being raised around the bubble of “Amens”, and “Praise The lord”, singing “Here am I, O Lord send me”, you may well of gotten so comfortable that your flesh is what is voicing the direction of your life while your spirit is no longer attuned to Gods Voice, as both we read in the pages of scripture, confirmed by The Holy Spirit Who illuminate’s it’s truth.
Maybe you stumbled across this online, perhaps being sent it through an e-mail or tagged in from a loved one, either way, a verse to consider while we read ahead, is that Jesus Christ, Lord of all, The King of Kings, Who by Him and for Him was everything made, (make sure you grasp this) tells us, the whole world, that those who really are His sheep, “hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”. (John 10:27)
So before continuing we can say that satan is aware of Jesus voice, but does not follow Him, that many know of Jesus, attend church, read their Bibles, want to escape Gods judgement and wrath one day, but in reality have no desire to actually “follow Him”. They may well of heard The Gospel (The Good News) but just as the parable of the sower tells us, https://www.briansumner.net/2013/09/good-soil/ maybe they fell away, and never continued on to bear fruit. Hmm, who am I to judge? Who is anyone? Should we actually hold one another accountable? Consider one another’s walks, and check the fruit we are bearing? Without going too deep into this, we are not meant to judge the world, and it is already condemned, which means guilty, until they come to faith (J0hn 3:17-18), but we are to hold one another accountable, spiritually in love, and by The Word of God which is our standard (1 Corinthians 11, Gal 6:1).
So in doing this, lets consider where we may be.
One of you, may need serious encouragement, you may be reading this, feeling paranoid, neurotic, a wreck, even lost.Your going through hell and don’t know how you ended up here, want your marriage to work, and have never felt worse in your life.
You said the words “I do, till death do we part, through thick and thin, for better or for worse”, and you meant every one of them. Granted, it has been tough along the way, you did fall in love, head over heels for this person, did sacrifice everything for them, and have had your share of ups and downs. You came into this marriage looking at all the benefits of how great they would look on the wedding day, how exciting planning a future would be, getting your first home, pregnant, kids, love, romance, being physical, even painting the white picket fence, or by todays desires vintage furniture into the picture.
Everything seemed to make sense as both of you were looking forward to the excitement of those days, and as they came and went, the reality of marriage kicked in. You have been living together, saw the worst in one another, fought over everything from past relationships, which way the toilet roll rolls, to yes, even where to eat. Life has gotten tough, and the days of juggling long work hours, meals to cook, dirty diapers, balancing a budget, remaining romantic, making your spouse feel as you did when you first met has left you guys wanting.
Your here today and your spouse it ready to give in and walk out of your marriage.
You tied the knot, committed to the future, have made it through some wars and are still eager with what hope you have left to carry on, but your spouse is throwing in the towel.
Be encouraged in that first and foremost marriage is not easy. Marriage though it is a joy, a blessing and one of the greatest ways to express love, it would do us well to consider that marriage is also a place for us to die. Two selfish people having lived their lives focused with their best interests at hand, what better way for God to help them move to a deeper level in their faith than to unite them together as one expected to serve one another over themselves?
As you are walking through this season of despair and chaos, please know God has not forsaken you, nor will He ever. He sees your heart, and I am sure you have had your share of both good and bad days in this marriage, maybe you were even the one who caused most of the chaos, but I can still say with confidence, that God is still here to Pastor your marriage, still here for your future, and still able and willing to see His Name lifted high as you don’t look to the left or right, but hold fast to His promises.
He could not tell us to “lay aside the weight” (Heb 12:1-2) if we did not face challenges. Would not say “do not be anxious” (Phil 4:6-7) were there not things we would be anxious about. Would not of told us in Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”, unless like Paul just ten verses earlier we could be saying “I consider the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”.
You are here today, want this marriage, are counting the cost of your shorting comings, have been repentant, humbled and are willing to do whatever it takes to make things work.
Your spouse is ready to make and exit and you are almost at your end. Let me assure you that as far as situations go, you are in the boat with many. This past year I have seen more and more people bailing on their marriages, kids, futures and possibly eternities for the sake of the grass looking greener.
Before I go there, please walking forward, make sure your walk is founded on Christ, and not in what happens with your marriage from here on out. We cannot control anyone, and though we want everything in our life to fit perfectly, we have to accept that this world is as it is, and God is good no matter the outcome. So many times in counseling has a spouse been so onboard for the faith only for a marriage to fail, or their be no reconciliation and before you know it they are out in the world, opposed to God and in and out of bed with the whoever comes their way to entertain their days. This person was not coming to God as God, but as a wish, who may as well be a a genie, only as good as the way such a persons life turns out. Make sure that your highest joy is not in your spouse, or elsewhere, as you will always be vulnerable to being led astray, but that you realize we do have a jealous God, One Who knows whats best, cares for our time spent with Him, and does have a better plan for us than even we can imagine.
Should your spouse never come back, God was aware of this before He went to The Cross for you, and it is in Him we can hope and see what He may have for our lives next.
As a person who was not raised in the faith, did not understand Godly marriage, and was divorced before coming to know Jesus, I understand just how crazy those feelings and emotions are. We feel lost, shattered, over it. Yes, for me I was very depressed, even to the point of being suicidal.
It wasn’t until years later that after coming to faith that I understood why. See in the garden in Genesis we read that everything God made in the garden was good, but that only one thing was bad. What was it? Genesis 2:18 tells us that
But man was not alone, in fact he was with God, but who was he without? His wife, his bride, incomplete. See if a woman could understand this and see that she completes her husband maybe less of her focus would be on the things outside of the marriage but instead seeing that the greatest call for her is as Adams partner. God seeing this was bad, He took the woman from Adams rid, and upon marriage where does she end up? Well put your arm around her and you will see she is right back from where she came. (Get into the Hebrew to better understand the rib).
But why was my life crazy without my wife? Because I was alone again, which God said was bad. Why may your life be feeling crazy, because you feel alone.
I have been in contact with four or so couples this past week who have been going through hell, based around this idea that one of them is feeling alone. Which, we now know, is not good! This is not how God planned it, but instead that the two would “become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
Moving forward you are going to need to depend fully on God, hold unto your Fathers hand, dig up those verses, and pray those prayers knowing He is the Shepherd Who is still leading you. I know when times get challenging for my wife and I, (who by the way I did get re-married to after we both came to Christ) one of the things we chose to do is speak Gods Word over us. In our doing this our goal is to let His Voice be the Voice in our home, our lives, and ultimatley our marriage. We don’t go off of our emotions, which will only lead us back to a place of chaos, but instead we “live on bread alone” (Matt 4:4).
“Who God brings together, let no man separate”. Do you believe that? Not yes, I am a Chrsitian, I didn’t ask you if you were a Christian, but do you believe this? Do you hear His Voice and are you now going to follow it? That has to be our approach to His Word. It is alive, “living” (Heb 4:12) The Bible tells us, but if I am not following it, is it alive in me?
“Husbands love your wives like Christ loves The Church”, and yes, I know we are never going to be able to accomplish what He did for The Church, but when hearing a verse like this, you either pull back or press in. This verse makes me want to step up, not back down, grab hold of the promise, not default to what is left. See I will never go to The Cross for world, as Christ did, but He did not call me to, He called me to die to self, and love me wife, as He did, which means giving of who I am and what I can do sacrificially to help her in her walk with Christ, as my spouse, as my childrens mothers, as she is friends to others, and as she is a witness to the world. Notice I did not say to spoil her, buy her everything, not lead the home, which would only make her the center of our marriage?
Also, I am reminded in those tough times to “live with her in an understanding way”. Another simple verse we may bring to remembrance or I may have memorized as times are tough. This does not mean to treat her as a robot who does everything I say. It means even in the midst of chaos, as she is going through something, possibly even to do with me, that I am understanding of what is going on, and that I am still there to love her, help her, believing God is still at work in her, the way He is still at work in all of us, even as we miss it. I mean be honest, would you of not given up on the church were you God? All the rebellion, blasphemy, idol worship and self seeking, even within the church, His bride? Wow! Yet here He is still at work in our lives, lighting the way.
For my wife in the hard times, when she is discoruaged or challenged, or maybe your the spouse with a husband who is over it, we are told in Proverbs 31 that “She does him good and not harm all the days of her life”. How many times has a woman wanted their marriage to change and get better and my advice has simply been this verse. As she is waiting for him to jump through hoops, pretty much throwing the Bible at him, setting the standard so high, yet showing no respect, no passion, no being physical, how loud does this verse echo the reality that God has for us all a walk to follow, especially her as she’s trying to lead?
So as we claim we are believers, Are we hearing His Voice And secondly, are we following it?
Second in my gathering some of these random thoughts tonight, is for those of you who in fact have chosen to forsake your marriage. You also repeated “I do”, have had all the fun you could get and now have decided you are ready to move on. Can I just ask you, are you really willing to do that? Is the leadership at your church not confident enough to address this issue with you, as you may well tell them they are judge mental, have a religious spirit and are legalistic? It is scary today that even within many churches the standard of accountability is far from the Holy Spirit anointed words of Paul, Peter or whosoever as they wrote instructions to Gods people calling people out about how to conduct ourselves. For fear of our congregations fleeing, and our desire to fill seats we think its pastoral to let them do it their own way.
I know we are not saved by works, so please, quit the excuses and ask yourself why are you getting so defensive, but we are called to be the salt and light, God does hate divorce, and you will find no where in scripture anywhere that God allows for it, other than for infidelity. And even then, I am sure God would rather we forgive, and remain married if the person is repentant and bearing fruit of it. In The Old Testament remember it was because of hardness of heart He allowed it, yet today, we are told to love one another, our spouses, and even our enemies, which may even feel like your spouse right now.
So you may be reading this and have had enough of your marriage, your high school sweet heart is not as fun as they once were, life does not look as you planned it. Your more attractive, get more attention, especially when you exhibit yourself much the way society is baited into doing so nowadays.
How many mid 30 to 45 year old wives are we seeing spending long hours in the gym, pushing out their chests, wiling to flirt for every nod and glance, and affirming look outside of their spouse for feelings of fulfillment? We live in a society where if we have spent six hours toning our rear ends we feel we have accomplished something, crazy right? Maybe your the husband, and your wife has been bombarded by all the kids you wanted, doesn’t have time to take care of herself, and is busy being a homemaker not trying to break the bank living out however hollywood baits her to be and now you are ready to get out and be the batchelor again.
If only you had waited a few more years before getting married, settling down, and lets be realistic, were able to sleep around with all those women? Things could of been so different, but I won’t quote The Bible for you, or bring up scripture, we are already saying we believe, and trust, and hear His Voice.
Again, I know this sounds very condemning, but I am writing this aware that the majority of couples who end up in this place, once they have been out on the town, finally slept with the co worker, or been freed up to try and find the right spouse, one day look back and like Adam and Eve today, see that the grass is not greener. See that, sure, sin is fun for a season, but the wages of it is still death, and that there will always be consequences. What are you living for anyway? Following or not?
And see, marriage is never really over, as you will be at every birthday party together, or ruin your spouses life keeping them from attending. Oh and when the grand kids come along, don’t think you won’t still be around one another, all the way until the end.
All the way up until death will you be in one another’s lives, and this is without my even quoting verses on marriage, divorce, and adultery for you. I am purposely not putting those in as those of you who do HEAR His Voice, and do choose to FOLLOW Him, will surely want to seek those out.
Aside from these simply thoughts we also have to realize that if we actually teach our Bibles to our congregations they will know what 1 Corinthians says about sex outside of marriage, that adultery is first and foremost again God, then our spouse, even our children as our whole covenant was of two becoming one before the miraculous power of God Almighty.
For the second group of people here today, I am first and foremost saying you have been deceived, mocked and are choosing your self, selfishly over God, your spouse, your children, family, friends and witness. Honestly, even if you live the life you will go on to shape for yourself, what are you going to tell God about the spouse He gave you? The one He put with you to help you die to self, live for your spouse and let His love be known for all to see? Did I mention that marriage is one of the greater ways God leads us to serve, and think less of ourselves?
I understand to the unbeliever that this whole post is so foreign, but can I just say I am speaking to the follower of Jesus, who in turn views themselves as one of His Sheep, does not see The Cross as “foolishness” (1 Cor 1:18) and is here as The Lord is speaking for them to turn and repent, remember their first love, and that as many as The Lord loves He says ” I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” (Rev 3:19).
Church we can’t stand by, and go on with our own ways, not expecting The Lord to speak into us His Word, as warning, and to convict. If you have distanced yourself, bought the lie, and are far from your spouse in your marriage, its time you asked yourself what are you living for? Who is life about? Who did you make your covenant with? Are you aware that God is aware of the struggles within our marriages? That if we were honest, would we even marry ourselves?
I am writing here today to challenge you, as all the more recently I have had to challenge many, who have ran from their faith, believed someone heard from God it was ok to bail on the marriage, or even say God Himself told them this.
This is not possible, He will never speak against His Word, as He is a God of order, and not only is this about your marriage, but also about your faith. If you are not hearing His Voice here, in your marriage, are you hearing Him on anything? Does His Word still speak to you and is it the highest authority, or are you? If its you, then you are God, but yet God says that His eyes go about through all the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are turned towards Him.
Listen, if I spend my days focused on myself, how I look, the shape I am in, the people around, who soon I can find attractive, desirable, a better for for me, can I not also fall into the same trap? Genesis tells us “sin is crouching” (Gen 4:7), because our flesh is still eager to enjoy the things as it once did before we came to Christ. Paul could not write about himself as a “wretched man” (Rom 7:24) if it were not so. But now we have a new nature, one that is alive in Christ, if we really are His, and one in which we can hear His Voice, and can follow Him. Romans 8:14 affirms that“as many as are led by The Spirit of God are the sons of God”… So literally, and radically, what are you being led by? What is Gods Word saying of us? Are our desires bigger than Gods Voice, and are we so casual about Who God is that His Word no longer has precedent in our lives?
You see this post is not just about marriage, but more about your faith. Are we Christians? We can say that, but are we following Him? We can only walk that.
Which ever place you are in today, I will openly say that marriage is tough, but it is still the most beautiful of unions between a man and his wife. In fact, Genesis begins with a marriage, and the book of Revelation, ends with one.
Your life is simply a vapor, as James says, and we are only here for but a moment, and so like Eve, do we have to eat of the fruit, because of what looks pleasing, feels good, or is self satisfying?
Did not Jesus overcome these very things in Matt 4, proving to us that we don’t need the things of this world, but that in Gods perfect plan, trusting Him, He has given us a spouse as our standard for beauty. Has given us a partner, in whom we learn about our strengths and weaknesses and who is there with us through the good and the bad? Are they not the friend and lover allotted to us and the one by which we get to see just how conditional or unconditional our love is?
Listen to me, life is not easy, it rains on everyone, we are living in a cursed world, but we are not just here for ourselves, but others. Even Jesus said He did not come to be served, but to serve, and if you have made it this far through this blog, to be honest, the only thing that matters is where you stand with Jesus today, and how that standing, hearing and following will direct your life here on out.
God Bless you, and I hope that of anything written, it is The Word of The Lord that penetrates your heart and that your marriages are restored and strengthened.
For more info on marriage, stay tuned.
Photos by http://whitneydarling.com/