Family Resemblance (Part Two) by Dr. Abidan Shah

FAMILY RESEMBLANCE (2) by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction:  Nicole and I grew up on the opposite sides of the globe. Just out of curiosity, I plugged In the names of where she and I grew up on an online travel site and here’s what came up. One site said “complicated…you might even have to swim. May we suggest you fly instead?” Another site calculated the distance to 8,488.52 miles and a third one had in red letters “Report an error.” Nicole and I often get asked – “How did you two meet?” “What did your families think?” “Did y’all have to adjust a lot with the cultural differences?” In a sense, Nicole and I did grow up worlds apart, but we really didn’t. As we mentioned in the “Operation Safeguard” series back in February, “Our fathers had very similar beliefs and convictions.” We both saw similar examples of the roles of husbands and wives. That’s why it worked for us, but it wasn’t easy. Today’s message is part 2 of the message we began last weekend titled “FAMILY RESEMBLANCE.” Main point: A major ingredient to making marriage work is similar beliefs and convictions regarding marriage. In marriages where it does not start out that way, it requires an extra effort by the believing spouse so that the unbelieving spouse can see their example and come to Christ. In fact, even believing marriages lose their focus at times and need a course correction regarding the roles of husbands and wives.

1 Peter 3      1 “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.”

Context: There are 2 kinds of marriages that Peter was addressing here:

  1. Marriages where one spouse is an unbeliever. Listen again to verse 1 “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.” The Bible repeatedly warns against believers marrying unbelievers, but sometimes it happens. Maybe one partner gets saved and the other is not ready. That happened in the early church. Sometimes, one pretends to be saved, and it later comes out that he/she did it only to just get married. There are also times when a believing person marries an unbelieving person in the hopes of changing them. It’s called a “missionary marriage.” It is very difficult, if not impossible, to change anyone, especially after marriage. The unbelieving spouse gets defensive when the believing spouse tries to talk or trick them into going to church. Nonetheless, one spouse operates with one idea about the roles of husbands and wives and the other spouse operates with a very different idea.

Application: Are you the unbelieving spouse in your marriage? What is keeping you from being saved?

  1. Marriages where a believing couples does not know their roles or has lost their focus. Listen carefully to verse 1 again – 1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word…” In other words, the injunction is actually to all, but there is an added advantage in cases where the husband happens to be an unbeliever. In other words, sometimes, even believing spouses have to be taught and reminded of their proper roles in marriage.

Application: As a believing couple, are you doing things God’s way in your marriage?

So, how should wives be submissive, and husbands lead with understanding? Last weekend, we jumped forward to 1 Peter 3:5 where Peter called upon wives to be daughters of Sarah and the husbands to be sons of Abraham. We focused on the negative and positive examples of Sarah and Abraham to learn how to be a submissive wife like Sarah and how to be an understanding and leading husband like Abraham. We looked in detail at what submission is not and what leadership is not. But, we only briefly touched on what submission is and what leadership is:

  • Submission is the inner quality of gentleness that affirms the leadership of your husband.
  • Leadership is the outward demonstration of understanding that gives your wife the honor that is due.
  • The goal of a marriage is to be heirs together of the grace of life so that your prayers may not be hindered.

In today’s message, I want us to go deeper and learn what does submission and leadership look like practically. Unfortunately, they often get substituted. Submission gets substituted by Adornment and Understanding gets substituted by Achievement.Listen – 3 “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.” The Greek word for adorning is “kosmos,” from which, of course, we get the word “cosmos” in English, meaning “the world.” That word also gives us the meaning of “to beautify” or “to look orderly.” This is where we get the word “cosmetics.” A typical woman spends her time and resources in buying and applying cosmetics to look pretty and orderly. Yes, a husband desires a pretty wife, but that is not primary to him.

So also, for husbands 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…” I’ll be the first to admit that we men don’t understand women. We think we do but we don’t. I saw this image of 2 books: one super thick and the other super thin. The thick one’s title was “A Guide to Women’s Logic: Condensed Edition” and the thin one’s title was “What Men Understand About Women: Revised and Expanded.” Nonetheless, we men will do anything we can do understand and conquer the world, but when it comes to our wives, we don’t care to learn. What does “weaker vessel” imply? Probably, it refers to physical strength, generally speaking. It also implies that she is weaker in the sense of “social entitlement and empowerment” (Jobes). In other words, think about how you would handle something that was delicate. A man will work hard to provide for his wife and family, but he doesn’t care to understand his wife and her needs. Yes, a wife desires a hardworking man, but that is not primary to her.

So, the question is how can wives be submissive to their own husbands, and husbands lead their wives with understanding and give them honor?

  • It begins by understanding that the greatest need of a husband is not adornment but respect, and the greatest need of a wife is not achievement but love.
  • In many marriages, instead of respect, there is criticism, and instead of love, there is silence or indifference.
  • Men consider criticism to be disrespect, and wives consider silence to be a fightand indifference to be lack of love.

Here are some practical suggestions (from Eggerichs):

For wives:

Shaunti Feldhan did some research on the differences between men and women: If men were forced to choose between: 1.To be left alone and unloved in the world; 2. To feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone. 74% chose the first one.

  1. Appreciate his work and goals
  2. Appreciate his protection and provision
  3. Appreciate his counsel
  4. Appreciate his friendship
  5. Appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy

For husbands:

In a similar research, if women were forced to choose between: 1. To be with someone and be unhappy: 2. To be alone. Most chose the first one.

  1. Show affection
  2. Talk
  3. Listen
  4. Apologize
  5. Affirm your commitment
  6. Praise

Invitation: Wives, are you showing respect? Husbands, are you showing love? Do you know Christ as your Savior? Is he the head of your house?

Family Resemblance by Dr. Abidan Shah

FAMILY RESEMBLANCE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  If you grew up in America, especially in the South, you have heard of the legendary feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, 2 families that lived on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky by the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River. The two patriarchs of the families – William Anderson (Devil Anse) Hatfield and Randolph McCoy got into a dispute over the murder of Randolph’s brother sometime after the Civil War. They also had an ongoing conflict over timber. Few years later, some of the descendants fought over a pig and the star witness was killed soon after. Then, it was a romance between Hatfield’s son and McCoy’s daughter that didn’t work out and some more murders followed. Altogether, it is claimed that at least 20 men and women (some even claim 100) were killed over the family feud. Although, everything had been long forgotten since they shook hands in 1897, there was a dispute in 2000 over the access to the cemetery. So, in 2003, both the families had to sign a truce. Little did those 2 patriarchs realize the pattern they set for their descendants even 2 centuries later! It’s amazing how much we follow the trajectory of our parents, good and bad. Main point: Yes, we should honor our parents, but we should be careful about following their trajectory, especially when it comes to marriage and family. Instead, we are to choose to be daughters of Sarah and sons of Abraham. In other words, seek to be a submissive wife like Sarah and an understanding husband like Abraham.

1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.”

Context: In our series on 1 Peter titled “TOGETHER FORWARD,” we come to the section that has been very controversial through the years. It has been misused and abused causing a lot of pain, mostly to women, but also to children. It was very tempting for me to skip over it, but the more I prayed about it, the more I realized that to skip over it is to skip over God’s words. I don’t have the authority to do that. So, don’t shoot the messenger. In fact, the proper understanding of this passage is actually liberating to women rather than binding. Furthermore, it is the linchpin issue that deals with the rest of the craziness that is happening in our culture with gender and race issues.

Before we dive into this section of husband-wife relationship, we need to keep in mind the section that we just came out of. Peter had just finished telling his readers to follow the example of the Servant from Isaiah 53. He wanted his readers and us to have the mindset of the one who was “wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Without that mindset, the section we are about to get into will be like fingernails on chalkboard.

Application: Do you have the Servant mindset? Are you willing to suffer for others? Do you know the Servant, Jesus Christ? Was he wounded for your transgressions? Was he bruised for your iniquities? Was the chastisement of your peace upon him? Were you healed by his stripes?

Back to our section – Even though the section on husband-wife relationship begins in 1 Peter 3:1, I would like to begin at 1 Peter 3:5 where Peter invoked the example of the marriage of Abraham and Sarah to explain how wives should be submissive and husbands should lead in marriage – 5 “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Even though Abraham’s name is not mentioned in verse 7, the implication is there: Women be a wife like Sarah and men be a husband like Abraham. In other words, those who truly exemplify what marriage is supposed to be become the true descendants of Sarah and Abraham. So, how was the marriage of Sarah and Abraham?

  1. She was a supportive wife.

Genesis 12      4 “…And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan.”

Keep in mind that Abram was originally from Ur. It’s his father Terah who led the first exodus out of Ur with his kids, livestock, and possessions and came to Haran. By the time they were there and Terah died, Abram was 75 years old. That would make Sarah 65 since she was 10 years younger than him. It’s already been one big move. When God’s call came to Abram in Haran, he left and Sarah followed her husband. The Bible doesn’t talk about it but I can imagine what a struggle that must have been for her. Archaeological evidence tells us that Ur was a large, civilized city. Being near the Persian Gulf, people from everywhere came there for business. Haran was not as prominent, but it was still a big place. There was a large temple to the moon god there. Nonetheless, Sarai followed her husband. Why? She knew that God had called her husband.

Application: Ladies, are you supportive of your husband? I understand that there will be times that you will have to put your foot down, but have you ever been supportive?

  1. He was not always an understanding husband.

Genesis 12      10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, “This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you aremy sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”

Technically, she was his sister (Genesis 20:12), but what a horrible thing to do. Also, how cowardly can you get. Thankfully, God intervened and saved Sarah by plaguing Egypt. Unfortunately, he still didn’t learn his lesson. In Genesis 20, 25 years since the Egypt incident, he did it again and this time he was 100 years old. Again, God had to intervene. Goes to tell you that age does not always equal maturity. Stupid has no age limit!

Application: Men, have you been understanding towards your wife? I understand that none of us are perfect, but is there a mental block somewhere?

  1. They both made some big mistakes.

Genesis 16      1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.

Their mistake was not that they were helping God out. Their mistake was that they both thought that Sarah was not part of God’s plan. She was being unselfish, and he was not talking to God. Later, Sarah told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away and we wouldn’t listen to her and God had to talk to Abraham. How tragic when husbands and wives are not on the same page spiritually.

Application: Couples sometimes make bad decisions, and their marriage comes to a halt. Is that you? Has your marriage come to a standstill because of the complications of sin?

  1. Nonetheless, she submitted to his leadership.

When God came to inform Sarah that she would be with child, listen to her response –Genesis 18      10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” That is the passage that Peter quotes in his letter. The word she used here in Hebrew is “adoney,” which means lord, master. In spite of all his weaknesses, she laughed at the proposition but still showed him respect for his leadership.

Application: Ladies, have you stopped respecting your husband for some decision(s) he has made? How do you talk to him? How do you look at him?

  1. He, not Sarah, was called by God to do the most difficult sacrifice.

God called him, not Sarah, to sacrifice Isaac. He was the spiritual leader of the family. Just like after Adam and Eve sinned, God knew who took the fruit first, but he called, “Adam, where are you?” The most difficult thing for a wife is a husband who doesn’t lead spiritually or is inconsistent?

Application: Men, God is going to require from you, not your wife, the account of your family?

What is submission not? (From Grudem)

  1. Putting your husband in the place of God.
  2. Giving up your mind and thought.
  3. Suppressing any efforts to influence and guide your husband.
  4. Giving in to every demand of the husband.
  5. Being inferior in Christ compared to your husband.
  6. Getting spiritual and personal strength primarily through your husband.
  7. Being fearful and timid.

1 Peter 3:6 “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”

What is leadership not?

  1. Thinking that you are closer to God.
  2. Expecting blind allegiance.
  3. Refusing to take your wife’s advice and input.
  4. Doing whatever you want.
  5. Leaving all spiritual stuff to your wife.
  6. Refusing to take the blame for where your family is headed.
  7. Being brash and authoritarian.

What is submission? The inner quality of gentleness that affirms the leadership of your husband.

What is leadership? The outward demonstration of understanding that gives your wife the honor that is due.

What is the goal? So, you can be heirs together of the grace of life and your prayers may not be hindered.

1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Invitation: Do you have family resemblance with Sarah and Abraham or with your own “Hatfields and McCoys?” Are you in the family of God? Are you saved?

Operation Safeguard: Part 2 by Dr. Abidan Shah & Nicole Shah

OPERATION SAFEGUARD 2 – Dr. Abidan and Nicole Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction:  We are in part 2 of our message titled “OPERATION SAFEGUARD.” Last weekend, Nicole and I focused on the 10 kinds of homes we come from that impact what kind of marriages we will have. In today’s message, we will focus on the danger of isolation and the ways to intimacy in marriage. Once again, I want to invite Nicole to the stage. Last week, we heard from so many who come in person or watch online as to how much they loved and learned from our talk on marriage. We are hoping to do this periodically to help marriage and family in our culture today. As I mentioned last time, we are still in our series through 1 Peter. So, let’s turn there now.

1 Peter 2      11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Context: If you remember from last week, 1 Peter can be divided into 2 halves: first half is from 1:1 – 2:10 and its focused on how the believers in Asia Minor saw themselves; the second half is from 2:11 – end and its focused on how the believers should live before the watching world, especially with regards to government, work, and marriage. Verses 11 and 12 of chapter 2 are the transition between the two sections. Last weekend, I pointed out 3 important words in verse 11 that set the tone for the application: Beloved (We are all in this together), Sojourners and Pilgrims (We are simply passing through), and War (We are in a spiritual warfare with the culture which surrounds us). Now, in verse 12, Peter told them how to win this war – 12 “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers…” Why are they considered evildoers? Because they are now believers and they don’t worship the old gods and goddesses. So, how do they combat such accusations? “…they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” The best ammunition against the lost world are good works of the believers that the lost world will brag about to God when he comes again. By the way, you cannot glorify God when he comes again unless you are saved. In other words, the gentile neighbors got saved by observing the good lifestyles of their Christian neighbors whom they were hating. Here’s the point: We don’t combat the lost world by copying their tactics of shouting matches, smear campaigns, and savage/senseless behavior. We combat the lost world with displaying a lifestyle that they admire and desire to emulate. In other words, we are called to win by recruitment not retribution. These are good works with regards to government, work, and marriage. Because of Valentine’s Day, we skipped over government and work, but we will be back. So, how can we have good works in marriage that our lost neighbors will admire and desire to emulate?

NICOLE:

Tragically, one hindrance to good works in marriage is ISOLATION. This is the heart of the problem for most marriages. God said in Genesis 2:24“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Unfortunately, marriages automatically drift towards isolation. What are the causes of isolation in marriages?

  1. Changes in our culture (devaluing of marriage, family, and children; over valuing of independence; influence of media and entertainment)
  2. Our childhood and expectations (from last weekend’s message)
  3. Selfishness (focusing on our spouse’s weaknesses and justifying our rejection of our spouse)
  4. Improper responses to the struggles in marriage (poor models, wrong advisors, no plan for crisis in marriage)
  5. Extra-marital affairs (Activities affair, Materialism affair, Career affair, Family affair, and Love affair)

Marriage is God’s idea and he desires ONENESS in our marriages for 4 reasons:

  • It reflects God’s image;
  • it gives us companionship in life;
  • it spreads a godly legacy;
  • and, it reflects the relationship between Christ and the church;

How can we have this oneness in marriage? There are 6 different intimacies (We are getting these from Tony and Alisa Dilorenzos):

ABIDAN:

  1. Spiritual intimacy – The first, and, I believe, the most important intimacy in marriage is spiritual intimacy. This is the relationship that the husband and wife have with Jesus Christ and each other. We talked about this last week, so we are going to dive deeper. This type of intimacy includes going to church together as a family, doing devotions together and praying together. As we talked about last week, our marriages should be a commitment between husband, wife and God. In this commitment is going to church to be spiritually fed together. This is so important not only for the husband and the wife, but also for the children as well. This sets the course for the rest of their lives. The decision to follow Jesus Christ is the most important decision you will ever make with the choice of a spouse second. Spiritual intimacy also includes devotions together as a couple. How? Choose a devotional book, preferably one for couples and decide how often you and your spouse will do them: every day, once a week, etc. We recommend at least once a week. If you can do every day, great! Also, end your couple devotional time with prayer. Either each one of you pray or take turns who prays after each devotion.

Don’t neglect your individual devotions because each of you need this as well. This is where scheduling is important. Nicole gets up every morning before the boys to do her devotions for uninterrupted time. It takes discipline.

  1. Intellectual intimacy – This type of intimacy is all about the issues you and your spouse consider to be important to your marriage. This could be goals for your marriage, values for your marriage and family or even creating a budget for your family. Intellectual intimacy requires communication. I can see the wives are excited with this one, and the husbands are tuning out! Maybe you can begin your communication with books life Connect Like You Did When You First Met or One Question a Day for You and Me. These will help to start great conversations between the two of you. If you are not sure if you need help in this area, ask yourself: do you know your spouse’s hopes and dreams? If your spouse asked you to pick up a toiletry item for them at the store, would you know the brand?
  2. Financial intimacy – This type of intimacy is sharing your financial situation. We step on some toes here, but first of all, couples should have a shared checking account. Too much mine and yours does not create intimacy. There is nothing wrong with having a husband’s and wife’s fun money account, but the main family accounts should be joint. We do understand that there are times that this is not easy. If one spouse spends indiscreetly, this can cause so much trouble. Also, if business and employees have to paid out of this account, this has to be done with trust. Having said that, your finances can be a great intimacy builder as you plan and dream for the future; or it can be an intimacy killer, if you both constantly disagree on how to handle your finances. If you and your spouse fit the latter category, maybe you should begin your financial planning sessions with prayer. Remember, God is the third person in your marriage. Also, if you don’t tithe as a couple, you will always have financial struggles. Abidan and I have found that if we are tithing, God provides all of our needs. It’s His money anyway, and He only asks for 10%.

NICOLE:

4.  Recreational intimacy – This type of intimacy is having fun together doing something that you both enjoy. This is where your hobbies might come into play. Is there something that you both enjoy doing? A sport, an outdoor activity, and indoor activity, or activities involving the arts. Here is a list that I got from Tony & Alisa Dilorenzo’s book Stripped Down, but you can find exhaustive lists on Pinterest or asking Google. If you don’t enjoy doing the same things as your spouse, make a list of your personal top 5 or 10 things you enjoy doing. Exchange lists and take turns going on dates doing something off your spouse’s list. You might find that you enjoy doing something that your spouse enjoys. At the least, enjoy being with your spouse.

5. Emotional intimacy – Other than spiritual intimacy, emotional intimacy is foundational for your marriage. This intimacy is the feeling of closeness to someone special in your life. You can have emotional intimacy with many people in your life: your parents, your children, your friends; but the most important person is your spouse. How do you start? Think back to when you met your spouse. You went on dates.

  • Keep dating your spouse. They don’t have to be extravagant; just spend time together.
  • Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than a yes or no answer. We have 2 books in our resource room that can help with this part of emotional intimacy.
  • Share a hobby together. This is doing something together that you both enjoy. For example, sports, crafts, hunting, travel.
  • Get away for a weekend. For example, a nice hotel in the next city, a bed and breakfast, or a resort.

These are just a few ways that you can build and strengthen your emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is the gateway to great physical intimacy.

  1. Physical intimacy – This intimacy includes holding hands, hugging, kissing and sex. This part of marriage is definitely influenced by the way you were raised. What were your parents’ attitude towards sex? Their attitudes towards the subject of sex have affected the way that you view sex. Ladies, if your mother communicated to you that sex was a duty or was dirty; you need a mind shift. If you didn’t already know this, God created sex. He said that everything that he had created was good. Sin changed that. Genesis 2:25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” I know this sounds crazy, but you need to pray and ask God to change your attitude about sex. You also need to subscribe to the One Extraordinary Marriage podcast or Marriage 365 webcast, or both! Men, your wives need emotional intimacy to be ready for sex. Ladies, your husbands need sex to feel emotionally close to you. Some ideas to help you begin to work on your physical intimacy are:
  • Pray – Invite God into your bedroom, and He will bless it.
  • Do a sex challenge – decide how many days you will have sex, make the commitment and stick to it.
  • Adopt the intimacy lifestyle – Check out resources from Tony and Alisa Dilorenzo.

Isn’t it amazing that Peter included marriage in his list of good works that causes the gentiles to get saved! If your marriage was the gospel plan for somebody, how good is your gospel?

Invitation: Is your marriage drifting towards isolation or intimacy? Is Christ the center of your marriage? Are you saved?

Operation Safeguard by Dr. Abidan Shah

OPERATION SAFEGUARD by Dr. Abidan and Nicole Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction:  As you’ve probably noticed, the stage is laid out a little differently this weekend. For the next 2 weeks, we’ll be doing a subseries from 1 Peter titled “OPERATION SAFEGUARD.” I’ll explain what it’s about in just a moment, but first, I’m going to invite my wife Nicole to join me up here. As many of you may know, Nicole and I have our date day every Monday, when we get away for a few hours. This is something we began 13 years ago after we went to a “Weekend to Remember” Conference. It’s our time to reconnect, talk about our lives, and just relax. Lately, we’ve been talking about the state of marriages in our church and society. It’s been hard to gauge where marriages are since the pandemic and the shutdowns. According to some researchers, people are not divorcing, but its more for practical reasons than anything else – “let’s stay together so we can weather this crazy time.” Maybe, something good did come out of 2020. But, there is a different problem with regards to marriage that has been emerging for a long time. The rate of marriage has been dropping. In 2019, it hit an all-time low of only 33 for every 1,000 unmarried adults. It may help if you have a reference point – it was 35 in 2010 and 86 in 1970. I would say that it has dropped even more in 2020. In this message, we will see what is happening and what are some steps that we can take even today.

1 Peter 2     11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Context: We’ve come to the second main section of 1 Peter. In the first section, the overall focus was on how the believers in Asia Minor saw themselves. In the second section, the focus is on how the believers should live before the watching world. In making the transition to the second section, Peter used 3 important words that lay out 3 important building blocks on behavior in verse 11:

  1. Beloved: The Greek word is “agapetoi.” It is hardly found outside the Greek New Testament. It has a tone of endearment. Peter was not talking down to them but lovingly calling them to action. So also, in the Christian life, and especially regarding marriage, we are to humbly help each other. We all have our struggles.
  2. Sojourners and Pilgrims: The Greek words are “paroikos” and “parepidemos.” The first means a resident alien and the second means temporary alien. These designations were not their civic statuses but spiritual status. In other words, they were just passing through.
  3. Spiritual Warfare: As we go through life, the world will try to conform us into their mold. We are to recognize that this will be a war. This is not some internal war but external culture war.

Once Peter laid this out, he applied this to government, workplace, and marriage. Because Valentines is here, we are skipping over to marriage, but we will be coming ack to it. How do you war against the fleshly lusts regarding marriage? Here, Nicole will explain how to safeguard our marriage:

NICOLE: Abidan and I get asked many times how we met; how our parents felt about us dating and getting married because we are from two different countries and cultures. My parents were born and raised in Georgia and except for 3 years living in Costa Rica and Chile and one month in California; that’s where I grew up. My dad was a pastor for about 25 years, so I was a PK and an MK. Abidan was born and raised in India until he came to the United States at the age of 17. As you know, his father was a pastor, as well, of the same church for almost 60 years. I know the question going through many of your minds is “How could two people from opposite sides of the world, who were raised in different cultures, make it 26 years and counting?” By the grace of God, first of all. There’s also one very important component in making a marriage work: the way you were raised. What I mean is your family’s values and convictions. What Abidan and I discovered is that our fathers had very similar beliefs and convictions. When your families are very similar in those areas, marriage works. I’m not saying that it’s easy. In fact, the first several years of our marriage was hell on earth; probably due partly to the fact that I wasn’t living as I should as a Christian.

When I say that our families have similar beliefs and convictions, the first one is that marriage is a commitment between you, your spouse, and God. Both sets of parents were married until death parted them. My parents were married for 34 years when my father died of cancer, and Abidan’s parents were married for 55 years when his father recently died. They understood what it meant to be committed to each other for life. I’m not saying that if you or your spouse comes from a broken home that your marriage is doomed. I do believe that we are shaped by our environment, especially as children, but there comes a point where you can make a choice not to let your past define you. With the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, you can have a successful marriage even if your parents did not. Both of us watching our parents’ commitment being fleshed out in front of us had a profound influence on both of us. Also, our families having the same convictions was vital: you have to be born again to be saved, the belief in baptism, the belief that the Bible is the perfect Word of God, the belief that Jesus came to earth, died on the cross for our sins and rose on the third day, the belief in eternity in heaven with God, and the belief that all human life is precious are a few of them. When there is common ground like I just listed, then the cultural differences are incidentals.

Whether we know it or not, we bring baggage from our childhood into our marriages –

  • How we were loved or not loved (even our perception of that as children)?
  • Did we feel like we belonged in the family? For example, were you the perfect child or the black sheep of the family?
  • Sometimes, this baggage could come from the parent that we are most like. For example, how do we react when we see something in someone else that is a flaw in our own personality? We don’t like it.
  • Our sense of worthiness also comes from our parents. For both girls and boys, it mainly comes from their father. So, when the father is absent, emotionally or physically, it has a profound effect on our sense of worth.

Taking all this into account, there are 10 kinds of homes that people grow up in:

  1. The healthy home – where parents model a godly marriage, not a perfect marriage. When mistakes are made or conflict happens, the children see the healthy and biblical way to deal with them.
  2. The abusive home – this one speaks for itself. This is any type of abuse: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or neglect. Results in marriage – victim mentality.
  3. The legalistic home – where there were extra rules other than what the Bible says that can be very oppressive. Also, there is usually hypocritical behavior on the part of the parents as well. Results in marriage – judgmental of spouse if not as religious.
  4. The affair home – this is usually a home where even though there was infidelity on the part of one or both spouses, the parents stay together; but there is no trust in the home. The absence of trust in our childhood home can have devastating effects. This creates adults who don’t trust their spouses.
  5. The impoverished home –the effects of this home are the children determining to never be without money or certain things that we did not have while growing up. Results in marriage – money is everything.

ABIDAN:

  1. The divorced home – this one speaks for itself, and no matter when divorce happened, when the children were young or older, divorce has a profound effect on the children. It is worse than death. If a parent dies, they didn’t want to leave their family, but in divorce they chose to leave. Divorced homes lead to feelings of guilt, abandonment, anger and depression in children. Results in marriage – divorce in either always or never on the table.
  2. The rage-filled home – the home where at least one parent could become angry at any time at anything. Results in marriage – pleaser or avoider.
  3. The abandonment home – this does not have to be as bad as it sounds. This could be being a latch key kid because both parents worked all the time to no quality or quantity of time. Results in marriage – crave connection.
  4. The perfection home – everything had to be perfect from the tidiness of the home to the behavior of the parents and the children. Results in marriage – become a pleaser, a controller, unrealistic expectations.
  5. The unemotional home – our parents showed no emotion, so therefore we could not show emotion. It was frowned upon. Results in marriage –uncomfortable with emotion from spouse or children.

How do you handle coming from such homes?

  1. We have to choose to forgive our parents. I know that this is easier said than done, but I think it’s easier when we become parents and realize how hard of a job it is. When we understand that our parents were doing the best they knew how with what they had, it is easier to forgive them. It will not be a once and done thing either. We may have to forgive them many times. Forgiveness will take much prayer and obedience to God.
  2. We also need to understand our love language and our spouse’s love language. Many times, what we lacked in childhood will become our primary love language.
  • If our primary love language is quality time, we may have come from an unemotional home, an abandonment home, a divorced home, or an affair home.
  • If our primary love language is physical touch, we may have come from an unemotional home, an abandonment home, or an abusive home.
  • If our primary love language is receiving gifts, we may have come from the impoverished home.
  • If our primary love language is words of appreciation, we may have come from a perfection home, a rage-filled home, an unemotional home, a divorced home, an ultra-religious home, or an abusive home.
  • If our primary love language is acts of service, we may have come from an abandonment home or an abusive home.

In many marriages, each spouse is expressing love in the way they want to be loved, not how their spouse wants to be loved. A great resource to understanding our love languages is the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

NICOLE:

  1. Also, a good exercise for us and our spouse is to figure out 5 values that we want our marriage to be known for. Write them down, post them somewhere in your home where they will be visible to all family members. These values will be a great legacy to pass on to your children. Think back to your childhood. What kind of legacy did your parents pass down to you? Do you want to pass that same legacy on to your children? Or a different one? I remember one thing that my dad did that left an impression on me. My dad had my name and each one of my siblings’ names inserted into the scripture verse 3 John 4. He posted these in each our rooms where we would see them. Mine said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that Nicole walks in the truth.” A few years ago, I found a photo frame with this verse imprinted on it. I have pictures of our children in it, and I hung it in the hallway between their rooms, so they will see it often.

When we begin to look at our marriages as God intended them to be: a picture of Jesus Christ and the church, an example of God’s unconditional love for a lost world; we will see how important our example of a godly marriage is. I don’t know about you, but I really have never thought that my marriage would be a witness of a loving Savior to a lost world. I want to close with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy institution through which God wishes to preserve the humanity until the end of time. In your love you see only each other in the world; in marriage you are a link in the chain of generations that God, for the sake of his glory, allows to rise and fade away, and calls into His kingdom.

We have created posters that you can purchase in the Resource Center and write your values from the list of 45 values.

Advancement Happiness Respect
Adventure Honesty Responsible
Balance Impact Security
Comforting Integrity Selflessness
Compassion Intuitive Servanthood
Content Joy Spirituality
Courageous Knowledge Stability
Creativity Laughter Steadfast
Discerning Love Success
Disciplined Loyalty Supportive
Enduring Patience Togetherness
Faith Peace Transparency
Finish Well Persistence Trust
Fun Protective Unified
Genuine Purposeful Life Wisdom

Invitation: How are you safeguarding your marriage? What are your values? Is Christ the center of your marriage? Do you know Christ as your Savior and King?

Glorious by Dr. Abidan Shah

GLORIOUS by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction:  In less than a month, I have performed 3 wedding ceremonies. Every time I open Facebook or Instagram, I see a Happy Anniversary post. It is that time of the year. I remember like yesterday when Nicole and I got married. I did not sleep but an hour or two that night. I was so nervous. I remember repeating the vows but I have no idea what I said. In fact, I looked at Nicole’s dad the whole time! Bottom line: We had no clue what we were doing! To be very honest: most couples have no clue what they are doing. In our miniseries through Ephesians, we come to a very familiar passage where Paul talks about the marriage relationship. Main point: A marriage is much more than a man and a woman living together in a contractual and consensual relationship. It is a living illustration of the mystery that was conceived when Adam took Eve as his bride and it was revealed when Christ gave his life for his bride, the church. Marriage is the re-enactment of the relationship between Christ and the church. Ultimately, marriage is a display of the gospel of Christ. This message is called GLOROIOUS.

Ephesians 5    17 “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”

Context: Some of you are wondering, “Shouldn’t we be reading from verse 22?” The most surprising thing about the marriage passage in Ephesians that begins in verse 22 is that it lacks a finite verb. The verbs are actually found in verses 17 and 18 – do not be unwise,” “understand what the will of the Lord is,” and “be filled with the Spirit.” Important Principle: “If you’re not Spirit-filled, this message on marriage will be like fingernails on a chalkboard.”

Question: Are you wise? Are you willing to understand the will of the Lord? Are you Spirit-filled?

Having laid out the 3 basic requirements, Paul proceeds to deal with situations where wise and spirit-filled living can be very challenging – personal relationships, especially family relationships. Verse 19 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I don’t have time to deal with each of these, but listen to verse 21 “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” The source of our conflicts is selfishness. We are born this way. Something happens the moment the Holy Spirit enters our life. There is a break in that selfish spirit. Life is no longer just about one’s own self. It is also about others. It’s no longer about just my feelings, my wants, my needs but also others. Important Point: Submission is a sign of a spirit-controlled life. The word “submission” literally means “To order oneself under a leader.” In the very next verse, Paul makes it specifically about the marriage and family – Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” The translation should be – “and, specifically, by wives submitting to their husbands.” Here’s the fingernails on chalkboard part of the sermon. But, it doesn’t have to be if we understand the real reason behind it. To understand this, we have to go down to verse 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” If there’s going to be genuine Spirit-controlled marriage, it will require us to understand the meaning of this mystery.

What is this “mystery?” The answer is in verse 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Here, Paul was quoting from Genesis 2:24, the last verse before the temptation from the Serpent. What happened before that verse? Genesis 2:23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Adam was praising God’s work in creating Eve! Very interestingly, the next time he talked about Eve was after the temptation when God confronted him in Genesis 3:12 “Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’” In just 12 verses, Adam went from praising his wife to blaming her. By the way, the curse that followed over the relationship is in Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Gone was the perfect relationship of willing submission and servant leadership. Now, it was a desire and rule relationship. There was a mystery in that relationship that was supposed to reflect the future relationship between Christ and the Church. Now, it was distorted because of sin.

I don’t have time to go too deep into this. What is Paul’s point in Ephesians? Jesus came, died, buried, rose again, and is exalted on high. He did this not only to redeem us but to break the power of sin and evil. He defeated the cosmic powers that have caused every dissension in the world, especially marriage and family. Christ has inaugurated a new creation. He became the New Adam. Now, he wants to restore the pattern set in the first creation. The church is the mystery that brings Jewish believers and gentile believers in one community. But, Jesus also wants to do this for the marriage, which was the illustration of this mystery between Christ and the Church. This only happens when Spirit-filled believers understand that their marriage is much more than two people coming together in consent and contract. It reflects the mystery of Christ and the Church. By the way, God still has his covenant with his people Israel, which he will fulfill in the future.

Applications: How do you see your marriage? How do you see marriage in our culture?

What happens when Spirit filled believers allow the recreation to happen through Christ? Think about where Eve and Adam messed up. Eve was supposed to defer to Adam, her husband, to respond to the Serpent and Adam was supposed to take responsibility to protect Eve, his wife. Because of what Christ did, now there is a remaking by the Holy Spirit.Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” This does not mean that the wife is inferior or the man is superior. Again, the word “submission” literally means “To order oneself under a leader.” Now what does the word “head” mean? It means authority. Submission does not mean that a woman shuts off her brain and surrender her individuality. To the contrary, a wise husband will listen to his wife and her advice and her warnings. It means to “let the husband be the spiritual authority in the relationship.

Just when you think that Paul was biased against women, he only had 41 words for the women but 125 for the men. Ephesians 5:25 onwards: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…” In other words, a husband and wife relationship is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church.The spiritual reality is that Christ is the bridegroom and the collective body of believers are the bride. By the way, this is why any kind of sexual deviation from a biological man-woman marriage is so serious. Listen again: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word…” Individually, we are made clean when we receive Jesus as our Savior and King. His blood washes our sins away. But, collectively, we come together as the church but we still have our faults, weaknesses, and selfishness. We also need collective cleansing. This is where Christ our Bridegroom who loved us and gave himself for us is now committed to cleansing us “with the washing of water by the word.” Although the word for “word” is “rhema” (the spoken word), it still implies the Word of God. When he hear the Word regularly and allow the Holy Spirit to apply it our hearts, we are being cleansed collectively. Instead of being selfish and self-centered, proud and judgmental towards each other in the church, we learn to become selfless and self-giving, humble and encouraging towards one another. We begin to demonstrate mutual submission towards each other, mutual forgiveness for each other, and mutual encouragement to each other, and mutual caring for one another. This is the process of purification and it is all done under the leadership and authority of the Bridegroom, Christ.

Marriage is an earthly expression of a heavenly reality. In a marriage relationship, the husband and wife come together with their individual faults, weaknesses, and selfishness. Typically, we expect the other person to be perfect and we justify our imperfections. To the contrary, marriage is a relationship in which 2 imperfect people start on a journey together towards perfection. Don’t misunderstand: Perfection here does not mean faultlessness. It means learning to live daily by the grace of God and helping the other person to do the same. We are to help purify one another with the love of Christ, the truth of his Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is learning to apply the righteousness of Christ to each other.

What is the goal of this perfection in the Christ-Church relationship? “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Christ is cleansing the church to present her to himself before God the Father in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

What is the goal in the husband-wife relationship? We are to help one another come to perfection by the grace of God and present each other to God. That is deep!

What is the husband’s role in this purification process? Verse 28 onwards “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” The husband’s role is to lead this purification process the way Christ does for the church. Making Christ the priority of your home, going to church, obeying his Word, and serving Him as a family falls on your shoulders. In other words, the husband controls the thermostat of the marriage. By the way, unlike the Christ-church relationship where Christ is perfect, you are not. You need purification too. That’s why God has brought the wife into his life.

What is the wife’s role in this purification process? “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” The wife’s role is to encourage the husband to help lead this purification process. Help him to be the godly husband that he is called to be and, together, build your home to be a place of mutual purification by the grace of God, reflect the great mystery of Christ and the church.

Invitation: Husbands, how do you see our wife? Wives, how do you see your husbands? Believers, how do you see the mystery of the Christ-Church relationship? Do you belong to the Church? Are you saved?

Changing Seasons of A Marriage (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

CHANGING SEASONS OF A MARRIAGE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on February 3, 2018) 

Genesis 8:22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season…”

Changing Seasons of a MarriageWe all have our favorite seasons. Many of us love the Fall with its changing leaves and beautiful colors. Some of us love Winter with its cooler temperatures. I know a lady in our church who left Florida because she got tired of the warm weather! She makes it a point to remind me that a perfect forecast is when they’re calling for below freezing! Personally, I love Spring because it’s a glimpse of the resurrection that awaits us. And, what can I say about Summer! Long days, beach trips, and the yellow inferno, which some call “the Sun.” No matter how much we love one season more than another, we cannot hold on to our favorite ones or skip over those we don’t like. They all change in due time and each one is essential for the next to arrive. Without Spring, there would be no Summer and Summer prepares us for Fall, which in turn ushers in Winter. In the same way, a marriage also has different seasons. We may prefer one over the other but we cannot hold on to any or skip over the ones we don’t like. I want to briefly explain the various seasons of a marriage and how that understanding can enhance your relationship. My information is coming from two books that have helped me greatly in my pre-marital and marital counselling: “Passages of Marriage” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt; “Seasons of a Marriage” by H. Norman Wright. Altogether, there are five seasons in a marriage:

  1. “Fall Season” – It is romantic love filled with captivating colors and perfect temperatures. The air is full of expectations that the colors will never fade and the temperatures will never change. Unfortunately, the leaves start falling, the temperatures start dropping, and only the barren woods and brown grass remains. Unfulfilled expectations can sometimes lead to hurt, anger, and bad choices.
  2. “Early Winter Season” – It is marked by a growing realization that love is not enough to face the dropping temperatures. Bills, mortgage, and car payments have to made. But, it’s not all bad. It can also be a time of much joy and excitement with the arrival of new members in the family! New roles and adjustments have to be made but it is fulfilling. Warning: It can also be a time when silk sheets get replaced with flannel!
  3. “Late Winter Season” – With no Punxsutawney Phil in sight, the days seem depressing and meaningless. Being locked up indoors, the defects in each other become more distinct and annoying. Cabin fever can sometimes drive people to venture out to re-discover themselves. Someone cleverly called it the “go-away-closer disease,” where the spouse wants to be closer and yet pushes the other person away. If properly handled, it can actually lead to deeper intimacy and commitment.
  4. “Spring Season” – Just when it seems that winter would last forever, the leaves start budding, the flowers start blooming, the birds start singing, the temperature starts rising, and “love is in the air.” Having weathered the harsh winter of life, people become more realistic and mature. Don’t take this as some “as good as it gets” life. Instead, it brings a far richer love and appreciation for one another.
  5. “Summer Season” – Far from being the “last years” of a marriage, these can be the “masterpiece years.” Michelangelo began his work on the Sistene Chapel at 76 and created the architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli at 88. Having been through the hurricanes of the Fall, blizzards of the Winter, hay fever of the Spring, and other unexpecteds of life, you are well-qualified for a masterpiece marriage.

Remember: “Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall; All you got to do is call” on God and he will see you through any season of your marriage.

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Six

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 6 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy6

Today is our final message in this series called KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE. Again, I’m amazed at how much you loved these messages and passed it along to friends and family! It tells us that there is a great hunger for truth about marriage and family.

Matthew 5   27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: The passage we just read troubled me a lot growing up. As a little boy, I remember my dad preaching on it several times and each time it left me more confused and worried and afraid. Why? Because I seriously thought that by the time I was 6 or 7, I’d be blind and by the time I was 10, I’d have both my hands chopped off. I would actually wonder – I know I can use my left hand to chop off my right hand but then how about my left hand? Maybe I can use my feet or maybe get a friend to do it. What in the world is Jesus talking about when he says – 29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you…”

If there’s one sin that God takes very seriously, probably more than others, it is sexual sins. If there’s one sin that human beings do not take very seriously, it is sexual sins. We blame everything and everyone, other than ourselves. Unfortunately, the consequences are devastating and the penalty is severe.

Question: How seriously do you take sexual sins? How seriously do you take the sins of the body? Do you understand the tremendous consequences that follow sexual sins? Do you understand God’s wrath against sexual sins? Are you saved?

3 questions we’re going to answer about marriage from this passage:

QUESTION #1 – SHOULD WE PRACTICE SELF-MORTIFICATION? NO.

People throughout the history of the church have misunderstood this passage. A great example was the church father by the name of Origen from Alexandria, Egypt. First he tried to roll naked over sharp briars but when that didn’t work, he actually had himself castrated. Later on he was sorry that he had made that decision. Some circles still practice flagellations and wear cilices. Is this what Jesus was saying in this passage? The first thing to keep in mind is that self-mutilation is forbidden in the Bible. Deuteronomy 14:1 “You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves…”

What exactly is Jesus saying in this passage? To answer this question, you have to understand the moral setting in the time of Jesus. Things weren’t much different than today. Most Greeks and Romans strongly condemned adultery. To say that someone was adulterous was considered a big insult. It was thought of as stealing. After all, a wife was considered to be a husband’s property. Looking at many of the ancient plays and dramas of the time, even the common public looked down upon adultery. Jewish people, especially, strongly condemned adultery. It was considered shameful.

Having said that, adultery was quite common back then. The Roman philosopher Seneca says that those who do not practice adultery stand out. Even the Jewish people had become more and more like their neighbors. They knew that the punishment for adultery was death by stoning but hardly anyone practiced it. That’s why when Joseph found out that Mary was with child, he decided to put her away quietly.

When Jesus was preaching against adultery, He knew what they were thinking. “Yeah, it’s wrong but that’s just the fact of life. Sometimes you just can’t help it. (Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge) It’s not really me but my flesh.” It’s like the little girl who got caught with cookie crumbs all over her face. Her mom said, “Did you get in the cookie jar?” To which she replied, “I was just walking by and my teeth got caught in the cookie jar.” What Jesus was saying was, “Oh so it’s not you but your eye and your hand that made you sin? Then why don’t you just pluck out your eye and chop off your hand.”

Question: Whom do you blame for your sin life? Do you blame your flesh or the world? Did the Devil make you do it? Do you take responsibility for your sin life?

QUESTION #2 – CAN SEXUAL SINS SEND US TO HELL? NO.

Twice Jesus says, “for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Even though we know that Jesus is being sarcastic, it still sounds like he’s saying, “If you don’t deal with sexual sins, you’ll go to hell.” Some people have used this passage to claim that – You can lose your salvation and go to hell if you fail to repent from adultery. Not true.

Background: God’s people throughout the ages have been distinct when it comes to how they view marriage. They looked upon it as a sacred institution given by God and should be lived and enjoyed with holiness and fear. Adultery was a mark of unbelievers. Not only did God institute strict penalty against it but also repeatedly he chastised His people to stay away from it.

Jeremiah 7   9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations’? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.

Malachi 2 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.

Proverbs 6 32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. 33 Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away.

What Jesus was saying is “When will you realize that God hates adultery? How long are you going to keep making excuses for your sin? Don’t you know that people going to Hell act this way? When will you start taking sin seriously and repent before God?”

Listen to Paul in I Corinthians 6   9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. But just when you think you cannot be saved, listen to the next verse – 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Application: God is asking the same questions to each of us today – “When will we realize how terrible adultery is?” “Don’t you know that people going to Hell act this way?” Do you feel good about your behavior?

QUESTION #3 – ARE SEXUAL SINS WORSE THAN OTHER SINS? YES.

Background: Why are sexual sins so bad in the sight of God? God places a very high value on our bodies. Remember – Unlike the rest of the creation that God simply said, “let there be” and there it was; He actually made us in His image. Man and woman was the crown of God’s creation. Keep in mind that God is spirit who sees, hears, touches, and speaks. He made us to be just like him, to see, hear, touch, and speak, but with a bodily form. Somehow, God transferred His spiritual, eternal characteristics into a physical, tangible form. It’s mind blowing! Why? Because God wanted us to enjoy life! God could have made us just spirit but He wanted us to see and feel and touch and speak and connect in marriage. The human body is an amazing gift of God! It is God’s masterpiece and why not! After all, one day He would have to design one for His own Son!

Listen carefully – God holds the copyright and the title to every single human body. It belongs to Him. For us to misuse it is to misuse someone else’s property. Imagine if you loaned me a very expensive torque wrench and I decided to misuse and abuse it to drive a nail. What would you do? Hand it over. That’s why murder is punishable by death. Who gave you the right to end that body? That’s why abortion and euthanasia is wrong. That’s why adultery is so wrong because it defiles the body that is not yours to defile. Hence in the Old Testament it was punishable by death.

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6   18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Then to the Christian – 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Application: What do you think about your body? Do you know that it is someone else’s property? What do you think about the body of another person, man or woman? Do you know that it too belongs to God?

The bigger question is – What do you do? Some Christians say – Didn’t Paul say in I Corinthians 9:27 I “beat my body into submission” and in Colossians 3:5 “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire…” I remind them to read a few verses earlier in Colossians 2   20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. It’s not about gouging out your eye and chopping off your hand, it is about your eye and your hand and all of you belonging to Christ.

Application: Does your body belong to Christ? If you are saved, then you have been bought with a price. Is the Holy Spirit in control of your body? Are you saved?

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Five

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 5 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy5We are in part 5 of our miniseries KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE. Many of you ask me about how to get copies of the messages. Either you can order CD’s through the email in the bulletin or visit our website or sign up for the Clearview podcast.

Matthew 5   27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: Last week, we looked at how Potiphar’s wife, a pagan Egyptian woman, tried to seduce Joseph. Today we will look someone who was anything but pagan. In fact, he was known as “a man after God’s own heart.” As a young boy, he had courage enough to face a giant. As a young king, he had charisma enough to unite all the tribes of Israel. As the sweet psalmist of Israel, he had spiritual capability to write Psalm 23 and half the psalms in the Old Testament. But, in a moment of lust and weakness and pride, he threw away his conscience and his character and became worse than an infidel. Of course, we’re talking about King David.

Here’s a statement – when the world messes up, it’s understandable. I didn’t say it’s right, just understandable. But, when a Christian messes up, it’s unbelievable. You say – “That’s not fair.” You’re right but it’s still the fact. No wonder Jesus said in verse 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you…” Next week we’ll look at this in detail but for now the message is – “Adultery is a serious sin. Serious enough to take whatever precautions you can to save yourself from it.”

Questions: How seriously do you take the sin of adultery? How seriously do you take the sin of adultery as a Christian? Remember – it’s not just the act but also the thought. Do you realize the tremendous consequences that follow your decisions? Do you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit when you inch towards adultery? If not, you need to get saved.

This morning we’re going to look at the account of King David and Bathsheba and learn how easy it is for a Christian to fall into this sin and how awful are the consequences. But we will also learn that there is forgiveness and restoration through Christ. Again, married or single, this message is for all of us.

 I. FROM GLANCE TO GAZE

2 Samuel 11   1 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. I’m sure you’ve heard a message on this before – David was playing hooky instead of leading his army in battle. As the saying goes, “An empty mind is a Devil’s workshop.” 2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. Last week, I had several men come to me individually and ask me that question – “Is it the first look or the second look?” Meaning: Is it a sin to look at someone who is pretty? Altogether, there are 4 looks:

  • It is normal to look at a person of the opposite sex and think they are beautiful or handsome. That’s not a sin.
  • It is normal to look at a person of the opposite sex and even be tempted. That’s not a sin either. Jesus was tempted but without sin. Ask God to help you think differently of them.
  • It is not okay to look at a person of the opposite sex who is not your spouse and be obsessed by them. That is a sin. If you are married, you should have eyes only for your spouse. If you are single, you should have eyes only for those who are single.
  • It is definitely not okay to look at a person in a way that draws them into your lust. That is definitely a sin. That’s what David tried to do next.

3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, They gave her description as if David was supposed to know her family. Who was Eliam? In 2 Samuel 23 we have a list of David’s elite fighting force – One of them killed 800 men by himself; another killed 300 men; and yet another had killed a lion inside a snow filled pit. One of them was “…Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite.” (vs. 34) Who was Ahithophel the Gilonite? He was one of David’s advisors. How good was his advice? 2 Samuel 16:23 Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. Meaning: When Ahithophel spoke, it was as if God spoke. In other words, David knew that Bathsheba came from a very respectable family. He should have left her alone. But there was something much more important about Bathsheba – “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Meaning: She was a married woman. By the way, Uriah was also one of David’s elites. He had enough reasons to stop immediately!

Question: What do you do when the Holy Spirit tells you to stop? Do you keep gazing? 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Do you take the way of escape that God sends your way? Do you pray “Lead us not into temptation?”

II. FROM ENTITLEMENT TO MURDER

4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her…”

Background: What began as a harmless glance became a lustful gaze and turned into a disgraceful sin. “Go bring her to me.” How did David justify this? Here are my 3 guesses:

  • Maybe he thought he was doing her a favor. After all, she is married to Uriah the Hittite. Hittites were people from the North in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). There were also some who had transplanted to the South in Canaan from the time of Abraham. What David had forgotten was that Uriah was not a Hittite name. It was a Hebrew name that meant – “Yahweh is my Light.” Uriah was a convert. In his fit of lust, David did not care.
  • Maybe he thought no one would ever know. All the fighting men are in battle. I can cover it up. Nobody will ever know. By the way, David did an excellent job of hiding it. The punishment for adultery is death by stoning but for that you need at least 2 witnesses. Partly because he was the king but also because no one knew what was happening.
  • Maybe he thought he was entitled to her. After all, he was David the shepherd King, the man who defeated the Philistines. At least, I am way better than Saul. I have done so much for these people. I deserve whatever I want.

What happened next? Bathsheba got pregnant and sent word to David “I am with child.” Instead of repenting before God David went into damage control mode. First, he told his commander Joab to send Uriah home for some R and R. Uriah refused to go home because his men were camped out in the fields. 13 “Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk.” Let me say something here – there is a reason why David was not leading his army. He was addicted to the bottle. He seems to be getting wasted. It’s my guess but I believe that David was drunk when he went after Bathsheba. Alcohol dulls your senses. It lowers your fear and insecurities and you do things that you will normally never do in your right mind. Here’s a formula worth remembering – ALCOHOL + OPPORTUNITY = ADULTERY

Finally, he gave order to Joab to put Uriah on the frontline and in the thick of the battle pull back. Just as planned, Uriah died. Listen to verse 26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

Application: Do you justify your sins? Do you think you owe it to yourself to indulge in sin? How far will you go to cover up your tracks?

III. FROM DISCIPLINE TO RESTORATION 

27 And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. David was thinking that it was all over and that everything was forgotten. Listen to the last line of that verse – “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” The Bible is unlike any religious book. It never sugarcoats the lives of its heroes. As Alan Redpath would say – “The Bible never flatters its heroes.”

2 Samuel 12:1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. Nathan gave David a parable of 2 men – one rich and one poor. The rich had many flocks and herd and the poor had one ewe lamb. It was like a daughter to him. One day the rich man had a visitor. Instead of getting an animal from his own flock, he took the poor man’s only lamb. What do you think David? At this point David responded with anger. Listen to verse 5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Talk about a “Freudian projection.” In psychology, projection means, “you hate something in someone because secretly you know it is in you and you hate it.” God explained it 3000 years before Freud.

Listen to Nathan’s famous line to David in verse 7 “…You are the man! God said – “I made you king of Israel and gave you everything you have but it wasn’t enough.” Here’s the judgment – 10 “…the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me…11 “…Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ” Just as God said, it happened. For one murder, David lost 4 sons: 1. Son of Bathsheba (12:18); 2. Amnon – killed by his brother Absalom (13:28); 3. Absalom was killed in battle (18:14); 4. Adonijah – killed by Solomon (I Kin 2:24-25).

Here’s an old principle – Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” In other words, “what goes around, comes around.”

What is David’s response? 13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Psa. 51 1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness…Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12             Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.

What is God’s answer? “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Although the child died, Bathsheba had another child and she called his name Solomon.

Invitation: The only solution to sin is to fall into the hands of God, fall into the hands of Jesus. Do you need to repent today? Are you saved?

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Four

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy4Today we are in part 4 of our miniseries KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: So far we laid out the foundations of marriage. Now we are ready to look at adultery. By the way, the word adultery does not come from the English word “adult.” It actually comes from the Latin word “adulterare,” which means to alter or corrupt. It is a combination of “ad” (towards) and “alter” (other). Adultery means going towards the other person. Sometimes “adulterare” also means “to pollute.” Hence, adultery is the pollution or corruption of marriage. With that in mind, listen to verse 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ As you know, this is the 7th of the 10 Commandments that God gave to his people. It comes right after murder and right before stealing. God took the sin of adultery very seriously. How seriously? Listen to Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.” God considered adultery such an evil that it had to be destroyed in order to protect His people.

Now someone may say – “That’s just the Old Testament, the law. The New Testament is all grace under Jesus.” What did Jesus say? Listen to verse 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Meaning: In God’s sight, it’s not just the act but even the thought of adultery is just as bad. As I said before, let me say it again – Trusting Jesus as your Savior does not absolve, exempt, or release you from obeying God’s commandments. In fact, Jesus makes it even harder.

Question: What do you think about the sin of adultery? Is it a big deal to you? Keep in mind – we’re not just talking about the act but also the thought of adultery. By Jesus’s standards, are you innocent or are you guilty of this sin? Without the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit none of us can stand before God’s standards. You cannot have the Holy Spirit unless you are saved. Are you saved?

This morning we’re going to look at the account of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph and try to understand how adultery is subtle and how you can take steps to safeguard your marriage. Married or single, this message is important for all of us.

I. THE SUBTLETY OF ADULTERY 

Genesis 39:1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

Background: You know the account of Joseph’s life. His brothers were jealous of him and instead of killing him, they sold him to the Midianites/Ishmaelites who brought him to the slave market in Egypt, where an officer of Pharaoh, an Egyptian named Potiphar, bought him. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Potiphar bought him. Unlike his brothers who worked in the field, he was probably just a frail lad. Maybe, Potiphar saw his tear stained face. Maybe, he saw his innocence and his helplessness. Maybe even Potiphar’s wife was with him and she saw the far off look in his eyes and she felt sorry for this poor Semitic boy and wanted to help him. What’s next? 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. Joseph was a hard-working, honest young man, who had God’s hand on him. Maybe that’s why Potiphar moved him into his house. How much did he trust him? Listen to verse 6 “…he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Joseph was successful but success always comes with a cost. Any time you begin to rise in influence, power, and blessing, watch out. As long as you were on the ground, you were not a target. Now that you are standing up, you’ve become a target.

What happens next? 6 “…Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph…” Typically, Potiphar’s wife is portrayed as a loose, immoral, and manipulative woman. In my opinion, I don’t think it began that way. That phrase – “And it came to pass after these things” – means that it was not immediately that she went after him but over time something developed. Initially, she probably felt sorry for him – poor kid trying to make a living, far away from home, has nobody. She saw watched how hard he worked and how honest he was and her heart went out to him. Maybe, she must have talked to him about his life back home. Maybe, she must have talked to him about her life and marriage. Day in and day out, she was alone with him and one day “she said, ‘Lie with me.’”

Peter Rutter in his book “Sex in the Forbidden Zone” notes that when two people work together in a setting where there is trust and understanding, they begin to develop a sense of closeness, comfort, and even completeness in each other’s presence. Sex is the ultimate form of intimacy. That’s why in time this growth in intimacy can actually lead to sexual desire. In other words, when you work in a close setting with someone, in time it can lead to something more.

Illustration: Unfortunately, I heard about adultery at a very early age. It was in the late 70s when the hippie movement was going on. Some young people got saved and we’re going from place to place preaching the gospel. When they came to our city, we set them up in a big guesthouse and the families in the church took turns providing lunch and dinner for them. It was awesome. One day I had to take some food to the guesthouse and as I was walking by one of the rooms, something caught my eye that did not look normal even at the age of 6-7. There were several guys in that room but I noticed that one of the ladies from the church was in the room, sitting on the lap of one of those young men. I knew who she was. She was one of my friend’s moms, an active family in the church. Later on it all came out and it was bad. It hurt the family, the church family, the young men, and even the testimony of the church before the community.

Adultery is subtle. There are predators and serial cheaters out there but many times that is not the case. Adultery is the result of working in close context over an extended period of time with someone other than your spouse. As a married person, no one should occupy the place of closeness that belongs to your spouse. As a single person, beware if anyone married is putting you in a place that should be occupied only by his/her spouse. That’s why a married man can never be best friends with a single woman and a married woman cannot be best friends with a single guy.

Application: Who are you close to who is not your spouse? Has the Holy Spirit brought someone to your mind? Are you talking to this person about things that you should only be talking to your spouse about? Are you the target? Are you the tool of the enemy?

II. THE CONVICTION AGAINST ADULTERY 

Gen. 39:8   But he refused and said to his master’s wife,

Background: Joseph did not have to fumble and stammer about why he could not indulge in adultery. He had already worked out his reasons. Meaning: He knew this day was coming and he was prepared. Listen to the 3 reasons that he gave:

  1. It is breaking my master’s trust.

“Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness,

Joseph knew that Potiphar had been good to him and he could not do this to him. We’re living in an age when people do not have a sense of honor and loyalty. They don’t stop to consider what their momentary decision would do to their family.

Illustration: One afternoon there was a knock on our door. It was one of the ladies from the church. She was crying. I’ll never forget the look of emotional pain and betrayal in her eyes. I called my mom and dad and they sat and talked with her. Again, later on it came out that she had caught her husband cheating on her. It was very sad. Again, it affected that family, the church, and the testimony before the world. I’ll never forget the look of pain and shock and betrayal in our eyes.

  1. It is a sin.

“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin…”

Joseph did not call it an affair or a mistake or a one-night stand. He called it sin. We’re living in an age when people call sin by every other name but what it is.

  1. It is against God.

“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Joseph was more concerned about the law of God than the law of the land. He knew that one day he would have to stand before the “judge of all the earth.” Listen to Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Question: What convictions do you have in your life? Do you have to wait to decide where you stand on a temptation? Have you set up some safeguard in your marriage? “I’ve never cheated on my wife/husband” Have you thought about it in your mind? Job said in Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” What covenant have you made with your eyes?

III. THE ESCAPE FROM ADULTERY 

Genesis 39 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Joseph did not stop to pray and discuss and reason. He ran. There is a time to talk and then there is a time to run. For a Christian it is time to run from sin and to the Holy Spirit.

Does that mean that everything works out perfectly? Probably not. Joseph had to go to prison. But listen to verse 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Application: What do you believe about adultery? Do you have biblical convictions? Do you have the Holy Spirit? Do you know Christ as your Savior

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Three

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 3

intimacy3This morning we are in part 3 of our miniseries from the Sermon on the Mount titled “KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.” I told Nicole last week – “I’m amazed how well this series is being received.” To which she remarked – “People are hungering for the truth about marriage. The messages are meeting a deep need.” As we walk through this message, ask yourself 2 questions: How is your marriage? Are you saved?

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: “You have heard…‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Before we can talk about the dangers of adultery and the consequences of adultery, we need to talk about the delight in marriage and the contentment in marriage. In other words, before we can look at “what happens when marriage doesn’t work,” we need to look at “what it takes for marriage to work.” This morning we’re going to talk about something that is absolutely essential for a happy marriage. It is a 3-letter word that has been misused by the world, abused by the enemy, and refused to be discussed by the church – It is SEX. This is the point in the service when all the young people look up and all the older people get nervous. Take a deep breath and relax. You’ll be all right. We desperately need to hear about sex from the church for several reasons:

  1. Christian marriages are suffering because of it. I wish I could stand here and tell you, “If you get saved, then you will have an awesome, fulfilling, and problem free marriage.” Unfortunately, in many Christian marriages, the husband resents his wife and the wife barely tolerates her husband. In many Christian marriages, the husband and wives are nothing but roommates, actually roommates that don’t get along. In many Christian marriages, there is a sharp dichotomy between spiritual life and marital life. What happens to the children in these “Christian homes?” They receive mixed messages – “Christianity is great if you want to go to heaven and not go to hell but it does absolutely nothing for life here on earth. How come Susie’s mom and dad love each other and they don’t even go to church and my mom and dad love the church but they hate each other?” And the children know that dad is getting his satisfaction through late-night TV and mom is getting her satisfaction reading Fifty Shades of Grey because there is none in the bedroom. Even if it isn’t that bad, kids know that dad and mom are living two separate and miserable lives. They grow up despising the institution of marriage. When we say marriage is between a man and woman for life, they say marriage is for two people who love each other and it doesn’t matter if it’s man and a man or a woman and a woman. In many homes we are teaching our children to be successful in education and sports and career but we are setting them up for a catastrophic failure in marriage.
  2. Our culture is actively distorting it. Since the church and the Christians have made sex a taboo, the world says, “We’ll handle that subject for you. Come to us and we’ll teach you all you need to know about sex. After all, Grandma is in church and you can’t talk like that around her. Here’s a great book on sex without any boundaries. Here’s even a book written by a so-called Christian theologian on sex (except that the theologian is biblically way off). If that’s not enough, try porn, risqué music videos, raunchy movies and novels, soap operas, and smut magazines. We’ll even educate your children and your youth for you. You go on and talk about spiritual things – getting saved, bible study, going on missions, and defending your faith. Sex is our department.” Have you ever wondered why the new generation finds the church irrelevant? Because we are not answering the questions they are asking. Have you ever wondered why many children when they leave their homes and go off to college, they lose their way? Because they’re finding answers to questions, albeit false, we never answered for them.

What is the answer? Some people think that for marriage to work you have to communicate. Communication is important but that’s not all there is to marriage. Others think that you need to spend time together. Spending time together is vital but if we are truthful, in many marriages, couples fight the whole time they’re together. Still others think that you need to pray together as a couple. Prayer is very important but again that’s a means to an end, not the end. People have a lot of other opinions about what it takes for marriage to work – make more money, take a vacation, get a better job, etc. Unfortunately, as Arnold Glasow once said, “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” Here’s the answer – For a marriage to work and be happy, sex has to take a central priority in that marriage. This morning for the next few minutes we will look from the Word of God how sex is central to marriage.

1. SEX IS A BEAUTIFUL GIFT FROM GOD.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. This is the first wedding sermon given by God. Even though Adam did not have a father and a mother, God was looking towards all future marriages to come. He gave 3 commands to them – Leave, Cleave, and Interweave

  • Leave: It does not mean abandon your parents but start your own life together.
  • Cleave: Accept your spouse as God’s gift specifically designed for you. To reject your spouse in any way is to reject God.
  • Interweave: “and they shall become one flesh,” which means the merging of body and soul. In other words, “Have sex!”

Did Adam and Eve carry out God’s instructions? Listen to the next verse – 25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Meaning: Adam and Eve enjoyed awesome sex without any fear or shame. God had implanted the sex chip into their system and was it working! I know that at this point most men are saying – “Preach it! Because my wife’s chip seems to be missing!” That is the common complaint by many men that their wives never initiate sex and they feel like a pervert. Now what I am about to share with you men is generally true.

  1. Women, on an average, have less testosterone and other sex hormones than men and hence have a lower sex drive. This does not mean that she doesn’t want sex or won’t enjoy it once she’s having it. It simply means that she is not actively looking for it.
  2. Because of lower sex drive, women are easily pulled towards other distractions like children, work, bills, and house. According to a research, 8 out of 10 wives wish they could change that.
  3. For a woman, it takes sometime to build up the feeling but, for a man, it is instantaneous. If you remember last weekend, men are task oriented and women are more feelings oriented. Men can switch from one task to another but women are still caught up into the feelings from the previous tasks. Someone said, “Women are like crockpots and men are like microwaves.”
  4. Women, on an average, are not aroused by sight like men are. You might think you are a stud but that has very little to do with it. Thank goodness! What is she aroused by? How you treat her. What arouses her is when you take time to show her love throughout the day – hugs, text, calls, resolve issues, and help with her daily responsibilities (remember the energy factor). When you show love to your wife, it speaks volumes to your kids because it tells them that you two are in love.
  5. Every month she is reminded of her reproductive potential (if you know what I mean). This makes life uncomfortable and inconvenient for her. Because of this she has to deal with irritability, depression, anxiety, hostility, headaches, backaches, and other painful bodily functions. It’s hard to feel very sexy when you have to deal with all that. Thankfully most of the time it is only 3-4 of these symptoms.
  6. Men – If only you are being satisfied, then the motivation is very low for the wife. Imagine competing in a race in which you never get to cross the finish line. How motivated would you be to compete in that race? Not much. By the way, men – please clean up! Take a shower, brush your teeth, and put on some deodorant.
  7. Women go through various stages with regards to sex. Initially, the sex drive is high. Then, because of work and responsibilities, there is stress and lack of energy. This brings down the sex drive. That’s why men say things like – “She’s changed from what she used to be.” But when the responsibilities lessen and women understand and voice what they want, the drive increases. There are more stages where there are bodily changes but with proper knowledge, every stage can bring sexual satisfaction.

Listen to Proverbs 5 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love. 20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?

Application: How do you see sex in your marriage? Ladies – Do you accept it as God’s gift? Men – do you “dwell with your wives with understanding?”

2. SEX IS THE DEEPEST KNOWLEDGE OF ONE ANOTHER.

Genesis 4 1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch…25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth… Also in the New Testament in Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son…”

Isn’t it amazing that the Bible repeatedly uses the word “know” for sex! What is Sex? It is the merging together of mind, body, and emotions of a man and a woman that leads to a passionate explosive climax leaving both of them in a wave of innocent relaxation. It is a time when the man and the woman are completely vulnerable and open to each other. It is a time when a man and a woman know each other at a level that is intimate, deep, and sacred. It is a time when all boundaries and inhibitions are crossed. In other words, the ultimate way for a man to know a woman and a woman to know a man is to have sex with that person. It is deep, life altering, and permanent. This is why premarital and extramarital sex is wrong. You are getting to know a person on a deep level who belongs to someone else. Ladies – Sex for your husband is much more than just a physical need. He is doing it for knowledge. Now what I am about to share with you is generally true.

  1. Men are lonely and often feel isolated. Most men feel inadequate and impostors. As Thoreau said in Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Ladies – Having sex gives him the knowledge that you are with him and that you accept him. It gives him the strength and the confidence to face the world.
  2. It’s not enough to have sex out of duty. Men also want to feel that you want them. If you don’t really get engaged, the man feels that he is not good enough to excite you, which translates that something is wrong with him.
  3. Men are creatures of sight. If you remember when Adam saw Eve for the first time, he broke out into a song! All day long men are being bombarded by a thousand sexually charged images. Everyone from the movies, fashion industry, and advertisers exploit men from this angle. What does a set of tires have to do with a woman! Then the way some women dress makes matters even worse. I was somewhere recently and a woman walked in dressed kind of seductive. Immediately, my eyes were drawn to her. So I turned the other way but the whole time she was in the room, I was aware of her presence. Men – you know what I am talking about. When the man comes home and desires his wife, he is saying, “I only want to know you.” But if the wife says “I am tired” or “I have a headache,” now what’s he supposed to do? No wonder many men suffer with stress, depression, and anger issues.
  4. Ladies – keep yourself pretty outside and inside. I hope I don’t have to remind you about deodorants and mouthwash. But let me briefly say something about the inside. I know that this is a difficult message for some of you:
  • Some of you have grown up with parents who made you feel that sex was dirty.
  • Some of you had a wrong message or experience in life and Satan has turned your mind against sex. He did the same thing with Adam and Eve.
  • Some of you have endured the pain of sexual abuse growing up and sex is the last thing that you care about.

While a wrong teaching or wrong message growing up can be overcome, sexual abuse is more difficult. I want to recommend some resources.

  1. “On the Threshold of Hope: Opening the Door to Hope and Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse.” – Diane Langberg
  2. “The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse.” – Dan Allender
  3. “A Healing Marriage: Biblical Help for Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse.” – Brad and Cheryl Tuggle

On the Threshold of HopeThe Wounded HeartA Healing MarriageYou are living in bondage and your spouse is also forced to live in bondage with you. Satan has a hold on you but God wants to set you free so you can enjoy your marriage.

Listen to 1 Corinthians 7   3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Ladies and Men – How is your sex life? Is it once in a while? Are you regularly and passionately loving each other? Are you getting to know each other on a deep level? Nothing will give security to your children more than that. Are you saved?

………………………………………

Here are some resources on Marriage and Sex from me and Nicole:

Listen to the podcast by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo at oneextraordinaymarriage.com.

7 days of sex challenge

7 Days of Sex Challenge by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo – Great jump start to your marital intimacy! Also check out their podcast at oneextraordinaymarriage.com

Stripped Down

Stripped Down: 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Marriage by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo

Staying Close

“Staying Close” by Dennis & Barbara Rainey- a wonderful resource for couples who want to have a vibrant marriage.

The Act of Marriage

The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly Lahaye is a a classic!

For men only

“For Men Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn- Men, have you ever wondered if you would ever understand your wife? Here is a book that is a wonderful resource to begin the process.

The Joy of Sex

The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort – A very practical book for married couples.

Solomon on Sex

“Solomon on Sex” by Joseph C. Dillow- a wonderful book explaining the Song of Solomon.

How to speak your spouse's language

“How to Speak your Spouse’s Language” by H. Norman Wright- how to effectively communicate with your spouse.

Marriage- From Surviving to Thriving

“Marriage: From Surviving to Thriving” by Charles Swindoll- wisdom for couples that want to strengthen their marriage.

 

for-women-only

“For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn- Understand the inner workings of a man’s mind.

Every Woman's Marriage

“Every Woman’s Marriage” by Shannon & Greg Ethridge- Ignite the passion in your marriage once again.

Becoming the woman of his dreams

“Becoming the Woman of His Dreams” by Sharon Jaynes- Do you want to be the woman of your husband’s dreams? This is the book for you!

7 things he'll never tell you

“7 Things He’ll Never Tell You but You Need to Know” by Dr. Kevin Leman- Help for all women who have ever wondered what was going through her husband’s mind.

Red Hot Monogomy

“Red Hot Monogamy” by Bill & Pam Farrell- Want to put the sizzle back into your sex life? Here’s a wonderful start!

For more information, please feel free to contact us.

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