Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners.
I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you if you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Great. So today we're going to be looking at singleness and dating. Singleness and dating. How many of you are married? How many of you are married? Hold your hands up.
Awesome. How many of you wish you were single? No. Don't raise your hand. My wife raised her hand.
No, she didn't. How many of you are currently dating? You're dating somebody. You're in that dating process.
Somebody's like kind of like doing this with their hand, like. Okay, so you're dating and how many of you are single? You're single. Raise your hand. Look around.
That joke always works. Yep. What better place is there to find a mate than to find a person that you want to pursue marriage with? That is what Christian dating is.
Going to lay that out right now. We do not date just to date and to have flings. And have casual sex and all that kind of stuff, right? That's what the world tells us to do. That's what is the societal norm. But no, as Christians, the reason that we date is to pursue marriage. The reason that we start these friendships is to ultimately pursue that. And the process of dating is kind of a process of elimination. This works.
This doesn't. I thought, you know, you look good, but you're not so good. Am I doing this in dating? Am I doing this right? My dad mentioned last week that this is a question he often asks himself whenever it comes to anything mechanical or repairing related, you know, a car or something in the house.
Am I doing this right? He's talked about how he goes and walks down the hall or into the house with a hammer and my mom will stop him and say, where are you going with that hammer? What do you think you're doing?
You know that verse about the sins of the father being visited upon the children? I have inherited this trait as well. I am not mechanically inclined. I can't fix things. I don't know how to put things back together. I don't know how to build things. That's just not my strength. I mean, I can fix our modem and our Wi-Fi router, right?
Unplug it and plug it back in. I can use a plunger sometimes. I can fix a small drywall hole and put some mud over it. I can take apart a pee trap in a drain and clear it out, empty it out, get whatever the blockage is out and do that.
So I can do some things. I feel like I'm okay at diagnosing a problem. I can tell you the difference between, you know, a knock in my engine and a clunk in the transmission and kind of tell you that kind of stuff. I mean, you're diagnosing things maybe, but not so good at fixing them. You don't want me looking under the hood of your car.
You don't want me trying to figure out what is going on there. My wife, she grew up with a dad who can pretty much fix anything. Like he is just mechanically inclined. He also happens to be an engineer at Boeing. So he's got that going for him.
Went to college for this. And so the guy generally has a good working knowledge of all this stuff. For fun, he goes in his garage and spends hours making intricate wood designs and wood carvings and boxes and like dovetail joints and all this stuff that's like, I don't even know how that works. Like how is that even possible? Things he does are amazing.
One single piece of wood looks like multiple pieces of wood. That's the kind of stuff he does. And so I'm constantly trying to measure up to his standard and my wife's size.
I'm sorry, that's just not me. She's had to lower her standard there. And so recently our garbage disposal stopped working. And that's a pretty easy fix. Garbage disposal, you know, you go clear out the blockage and make sure it's clear and that's about all I can do. Make sure that the breaker didn't get thrown or something like that. And so it wasn't draining properly. And so I took the whole thing apart, you know, disconnected it from the drain, looked at it. It was kind of built, you know, some some buildup in there.
We bought the house from a couple who had it before us. And so it's kind of like, okay, I know some things I'm going to have to replace ultimately. And so I figured this was a good opportunity to go and live out my inner Tim the tool man, Taylor, you know, from tool time, anybody. And so I figured, oh, I'll just go replace this thing. It's not working. And so I went and got a more powerful unit that's quieter and is going to work a little better. And so I put it all back together and plugged it back in and it still wouldn't drain. And then $300 later, I realized it was never the issue with the garbage disposal. Our last garbage disposal worked just fine.
There was nothing wrong with it. The problem was there was a blockage in the drain a little bit further down. So I got out my auger, right? I've got an auger, a drain snake, and I go down and I clear that thing out as best I can. And it's only 25 feet, so it doesn't go all the way down. And so then we call the plumber like we should have in the first place.
And so now $5,000 later and the clog is gone and it's all taken care of. But after exhausting all of my efforts, I finally just kind of slumped back on the floor and said to myself, am I doing this right? Am I doing this right?
I don't think so. I need help. I need some instruction.
I am clueless when it comes to these things. How many times do we look at a situation like that with work, school, marriage, relationships, our singleness? And we ask ourselves, am I doing this right? Am I doing this right? Am I doing this the way that I was originally designed to?
I don't know what's going on here. The best news that I can give to you is that the Apostle Paul said to us 2,000 years ago in 2 Timothy 3 16, he said, All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may complete, equipped for every good work. Here's the good news. You may be doing it wrong, but God wants to lovingly and generously equip you for every season in life.
Isn't that good news? God wants to help you. He wants to show you the right way.
And it's up to us to be humble enough and willing enough to receive this instruction. I found that with my kids, sometimes I'll go and tell them, like, hey, buddy, can I show you how to do something the right way? He's like, no, I like the way I'm doing it. And he like rides his skateboard with his feet twisted backwards and doing this crazy thing. It's like, let me help you.
Let me help you. It's going to be better in the long term. He likes to do it his way. We're not all that different, are we? We like to do things our way. No, I want to have my singleness be the way I do it. I want to have my marriage, you know, cater to my needs.
I want to have my parenting be all about this. This is what it's about. Friend, we see in scripture, God has plans. He has principles that we can follow that are for whose benefit? For our own.
For our own benefit. And for those around us, for our family, for our children. At our young adults ministry here at Harvest, we are using this for our theme verse for our new series, Does the Bible, which we go through on Friday nights if you're between the ages of 18 to 28-ish. You are welcome to come and join us and come be a part of this series. Yeah, make some noise. We've got our young adults here in the front row.
Yep. And it's a series where we take a look at what the Bible has to say about the hot topics of today and ultimately calling this generation to embrace a biblical worldview. And so that scripture that the apostle Paul said, all scripture is breathed out by God and it's profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for what?
So that we, the man of God, the women of God, may be complete and equipped for every good work. And so this biblical worldview that we're called to have, what happens when we look at something in our life and we see this doesn't line up with what the Bible has to say. My view on marriage, my view on abortion, my view on sexual immorality, my view on whatever. What happens when it doesn't line up with God's view?
Well, what we should do is we should fix it. We should sync our view with God's view. My dad has said, what do you do when you come to a verse in the Bible you disagree with? Change your opinion.
That's what we should do. We change our opinion because we believe that the Bible is absolute truth. We believe the Bible is absolute truth. It holds God's word, his eternal timeless values that are true yesterday, today and forever.
God's word is truth. And so as with almost everything in our society, our view of singleness, our view of dating is either influenced or completely tainted by the world, right? The singleness in dating, some people believe it's an opportunity to sow your wild oats, right? I hate that statement. Go sow your wild oats. Wow, okay. Also known as go get venereal disease and go, you know, get pregnant.
Horrible, horrible. Go sow your wild oats. Or they also tell us, you know, go test drive the car.
You got to make sure, you know, test drive the car. It's a good fit for you, right? Have sex, move in together, focus on what you want. Friend, no, God has a plan. He has a plan.
He has an outline for you and what it looks like for you to be single, what it looks like for you in the season of dating, what it looks like for you as a parent, as a grandparent, as a husband, as a worker, as a student, all of these things Scripture speaks to. And so today we're looking at singleness in dating. Quick disclosure, last night at about 9.30, I was wrapping up my message.
I said, hey, to my wife, Brittany, beautiful wife sitting in the front row of 11 years. I said, hey, come take a look at this message real quick and tell me what you think. And she gets through about three quarters of it and she looks up and she says, when do you start talking about dating? When do you get to the point?
And so I've titled this message today, what does this have to do with singleness in dating? That's seriously my title because here's what we're going to do. What we're going to do is we're going to lay some foundational truth that's true for us in every season of life. We're going to do that. We're going to see what's true for all of us. And then we are going to see how it applies in these areas. We're going to look at God's general purpose for us as humans. And then with that lens, we'll look at God's purpose for singleness in dating. How's that sound? Sound OK?
All right. So what is God's purpose for us? Why are we here?
Why are we here on this earth like as humans? Point number one, we are here for the glorification of God. We're here for the glorification of God. First Corinthians 10 31 says, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. And then Revelation 4 11 says, Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created. This is a great summation that commands us. Whatever we eat, whether we are rather whether whether we eat, whether we drink, whatever we do in work, in play, in singleness, in dating, whatever we do, the ultimate goal is to glorify God.
Whether you're married, single, dating a parent, a grandparent, a construction worker, you're dying in hospice, pursuing your degree, a single dad, a widower or any other combination of things. Yes, you were created to glorify God. And in every season there is a purpose. In every season there is a meaning and we can either choose in those seasons to become better by glorifying God or bitter and see that this is we're a victim of our circumstance. I'm a victim. This is terrible.
I wish that I was somebody else. No, we can overcome our greatest challenges when we find meaning in them. And the greatest meaning we can find in our difficulties, in our trials, in our sickness, in our health is to glorify God, is to give God the glory.
It's true. As you look around the world from the natural to the manmade, is it fair to say that everything has a purpose? Everything that God made has a purpose. Trees, grass, mountains, oceans, fish, the ecosystem. Everything has a purpose.
The same is true in the manmade world as well. Cars, engines, motorcycles. I'm just thinking about vehicles here. Food, kitchen appliances, airplanes, all that stuff, buildings, carpet. It all has a purpose and it all has a specific application so that its purpose can be maximized.
And so when you're driving home from church today and you're hungry like we are going to be in about an hour and you see a guy flying down the street on his motorcycle and you look at that motorcycle and you think, I bet if I let that thing sit at the rev limiter at 12,000 RPMs for about 15 minutes, I bet you I could get that engine casing hot enough to throw a good carne asada on that thing and cook it up. I mean, I guess you could use that. You could use it for that technically. Or how about the new iPhone, right? The new iPhone just came out and you're thinking, wow, look at that.
It's exactly like the last one. And you wouldn't be wrong. And so you get that new iPhone and you're holding in your hand and you look at it and you think, you know what? This iPhone would make an amazing skipping stone. You know, I go pick up rocks at the beach. I like to skip those.
But you know what? This iPhone, it's polished. It's perfectly balanced.
It's got a good hook for my finger. I bet you I could get 10, 15 skips out of that thing. Technically, yes, you could, couldn't you?
It's not supposed to do that, but you could use it for that. People do this with the natural world as well. They'll go and they'll wipe out an entire ecosystem.
They'll go level a mountain because they want to put a new Tillies outlet mall there, right? OK. You could do that, too. Today, so many people treat their lives like there's no reason we're here. Like we have no purpose or that the only purpose we have in this life is to live for yourself and to get pleasure and to enjoy all the trappings of life. Live fast, die young, leave a pretty corpse, right?
So many people live their lives this way. Getting your fill, exploring what the world has to offer, what experiences can bring you fulfillments, no matter how temporary and what possessions may bring that momentary thrill. Just like when you skip your iPhone across the water or you light a beautiful painting on fire because you're cold and you want to keep warm. Just because it feels good and in some capacity it works in that setting. I suppose that is not the original purpose for which it was created, right? That's not why it was created. That iPhone has a purpose. That motorcycle has a purpose.
That tree has a better purpose than to just be whittled down and chopped down and made into a single toothpick. We were not only created on purpose. We do not believe that we're the result of some cosmic cocktail of evolution and bacteria and a large explosion. No, we believe we were created on purpose by a creator and we also believe we were created for a purpose. We believe we were created for a purpose and our purpose is to know our creator and live out his design and what he created us for.
What does it mean to glorify God? Third century theologian and philosopher Augustine, he said, Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. That's our purpose. We were created for God. We were created for his pleasure. Simply put, that is why we are here is to bring God glory and to bring him pleasure.
And our hearts, it's so true, our hearts are restless until it finds our rest in him. And so to glorify God, it means to know God. It means to love God, to pursue and follow and keep him first in your life, to obey him, to find your rest in him. To glorify God is to honor him. And what does it mean to honor God?
What does that mean? Well, think about what it means to honor your father and mother, right? It means you live up to their wishes. You do the things that they want you to do. They tell you don't throw a party while we're out of town. It doesn't mean tell them you're not going to throw a party and then throw a party and then clean everything up and replace all the things that were broken and try and cover your tracks and give lip service. No, that's not honoring to your parents. It means to honor their wishes, to submit to their requests, to put their desires ahead of your own.
That's right. To honor God means the same thing. To put his desires ahead of your own desires, to put his will for your life ahead of your own will for your life. Yeah, but isn't God just going to send me to like Africa and I have to become a missionary and marry an ugly person?
Like that is just the worst thing I can imagine, right? No, we can do this because we know that our God, our Father in Heaven loves us. He wants the best thing for us. And in Isaiah 55, 8 to 9, we read, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord. My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. That's hard for us to wrap our minds around. Think about it when your kids, you know, your children, for those of you that are parents, our kids want to do things that are foolish. They want to make bad decisions. They want to look out, run out in the street without looking both ways. They want to jump into the deep end of a pool without knowing how to swim.
They want to eat candy all day. What do we do? We're here to preserve their life, make sure they don't die, and then get raised into functional, good, productive human beings. That's our goal, and that's what God wants to do with us. He wants to raise us up into something that we could never do on our own. God has a plan for your life, and that is why we can glorify Him. And as you come to know God, and you seek to follow His will, and you seek to put your trust in Him in a deeper capacity, and you seek to build on that foundation that He has laid of faith and love, and showing you blessings, and the more obedient we are, the more that we're able to be blessed by God, we're going to want to build on that foundation.
We're going to want to grow. We're going to want to explore new areas of our life that we can turn over to Him. It's kind of like, you know, you invite the Lord into your life, and you tell Him, yeah, I only want you to work in this living room area. Don't go in that closet over there.
That's my compartmentalized sin. Don't come into that bedroom. Don't go in the attic. That's for sure. The basement, you know, there's some dead bodies down there.
Don't go there either. No. When you invite the Lord into your life, you know, Jesus said, behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door and invites me in, I will come in and dine with him. He wants to come into your life, but not just into the living room. He wants to come into every door, every room in your life, and take it over, and He wants to revitalize it. He wants to rework it. He wants to do an amazing new work that you could never do on your own. And so as we seek to open up those new doors, that brings us to point number two, edification. Edification, kind of a fancy word. I'll explain it in a moment. Ephesians 4, 11 to 15 uses it.
It says this. Now these are the gifts that Christ gave to the church, the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people, that's you, and edify the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind and new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Wow, that sounds relevant today, doesn't it? Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of this body, the church.
Let's stop there. That word that we read in verse 12, edification, to edify, is translated from the Greek word ekodome, which means to increase the potential of someone or something with focus upon the process involved, the building process, to strengthen, to make more able, and to build up. We are created to glorify God, right? We heard that, number one, and to do it through the pursuit of edification, that we would be built up, the strengthening and bolstering of our faith and the faith of those around us. Edification is building myself up so I can build you up, building you up so you can build me up and build your neighbor up and your spouse up. God's will for us is that we will be mature, spiritually acclimated, able to nourish ourselves, and that we will be able to help others along in that process. Edification helps you to see areas in your life that need improvement and realignment with God in. Oh wow, I didn't realize that God had something to say about this area.
I was completely off there. Edification is also growing in spiritual community, in Bible study, in accountability, a deeper understanding of God's will for your life. Again, think of edification and think of the construction and architectural process of building a building, building a structure, right? The engineer, the construction worker, and the architect, and everybody, the city they get involved to, everybody has a say in what this building is going to be.
And what is the goal? Everybody's goal, in a general sense, is structural integrity. They want to make sure that this building is going to stand and be safe for a long time.
If there's an earthquake, it needs to stay standing for longer than X amount of time, depending on the occupancy. These are all things that we have to follow, and the goal is that they would be fortified, they would be strong, that they would stand for a very long time. And so when it comes to singleness and dating, your goal should first be your own edification, because when the wind blows, and the rain falls, and floods may come, and your spiritual foundation is put to the test, it will reveal how strong your spiritual fortification is. It'll reveal what you're made of. It'll reveal your spiritual disciplines, how deep your roots go into the foundation. Edification exists for your spiritual fortification. Edification exists for your spiritual fortification. And so our goal, if you are single, or if you are dating, should first be your own edification, that you are able to lead yourself spiritually, and you have your own spiritual disciplines locked down, and that you have your own relationship with God in a good place, independent of other people.
Because as soon as you invite somebody else into that process, there's a good chance it's gonna distract you. It could pull you down. Maybe they'll lift you up.
That would be amazing. As you grow deeper in your faith and your understanding of all that God has done for you, and the blessings you receive are because of your obedience to God, what's gonna happen? It's going to create now a hunger in you to share it with other people. The more you glorify God, the more you see that He has blessed you. The more that He blesses you and you commit to Him, the more you wanna explore new areas. That's edification. The more you edify and grow in those areas, the more you want to share it with other people and evangelize. Number three, evangelization. We read in Matthew 28, 19 to 20 of the Great Commission, Jesus said, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you even to the end of the age. That's good news.
The more you learn about God, and the more you entrust, the more of yourself you entrust to Him, the more you are going to want to tell others about Him. Have you ever discovered like a really good product at Costco or like some brand that you really like, and maybe it's, you know, some kitchen appliances or some clothing, or maybe it's like socks or something? There's a couple of things that I found that I really like. There's a shoe company that I really like that is really cheap, and then there's a wetsuit company that also makes really cheap but high-quality wetsuits.
No branding or anything like that. And so a guy who spends way too much money on surf equipment and wetsuits and wanting to get new things all the time, this is a perfect fit for me. And so I do what?
I become an evangelist for them. I tell all my friends who surf, they're looking for a new wetsuit. You should look at this company. You need some new shoes, and you don't want to spend 100 bucks on vans. You should look at this brand.
They're even better. I'm making recommendations because it's been proven to me that it's something that is good and that I appreciate. So what do I do? I share it with other people. The more you allow the Lord to work in your life, the more areas you offer to Him, your finances, your family, your career, your education, your quiet time, your time, your free time, your hobbies, the more you offer to the Lord. He doesn't take those things, no, they're all for me now. All you can do is become a monk and sit here, you know, in stoicism and have nothing.
No. The more He gives those things back to you, and if it's something that you shouldn't be doing, He takes it and He gives you something better in its place. The more things that we give to God, the more He gives back to us, and the more that He gives back to us, the more that we are sure that this is a good thing, and we will want to share it with other people, right? The more you learn about God, the more you entrust yourself and your life to Him, the more you're going to want to tell others about it. I think a lot of people get freaked out about evangelism. You get psyched out because we hear a lot about how evangelism is closing the deal, right? Evangelism is making the sale, if you will, leading the person in the sinner's prayer, bringing the person to church and hoping that they make it over to the follow-up area and praying the sinner's prayer at the end of the message with Pastor Greg or with one of our pastors. That's the goal, right, is to close the deal. That's very true, and that is an extremely important part of it, and we can't do what we do if you're not doing your part in evangelizing and sharing your faith.
But instead of thinking about the finish line, let's think about how you're running this race, how you are going to build some rapport, some equity in this relationship with these people in your life. We all come into contact with nonbelievers each and every day, even me. I work at a church. I come into contact with people that aren't Christians here at church. No, just kidding. Pretty much everybody on staff is a Christian, I'm sure, I hope. We make them check a box, so that should cover it, right?
Just kidding. And so as we come into contact with these people, our neighbors, our co-workers, our fellow students at school, our professors, the people at the gym, the person at the restaurant, the person that takes our order at Starbucks or whatever coffee shop every single day, how can we share our faith with that person? Well, maybe you just need to learn their name. Maybe you need to learn a little about their life. Maybe you need to make a note in your phone. So-and-so shared that their brother died recently, and you make a note in your phone, and you ask them about it two months later.
You send a notification in your phone to tell you to do that. That's okay. That's okay. And you ask them a couple months later, hey, you told me about that loss of your brother. I just want to let you know I'm still thinking about you, and I'm praying for you, and I'm so sorry. And if there's ever anything I can do for you, please let me know. Wow, I can't believe you just said that.
I was just, you know, at work this morning thinking about how everybody's forgotten about that. You don't know what a small gesture, how big of an impact will make in someone's life. Your neighbors, they go out of town. Tell them you'll take their trash cans out for them. Tell them, hey, there's some random dude parked in your driveway.
Do you know this person? Those kind of gestures, they build equity, and so when it comes time to invite them to the Harvest Crusade, when it comes time to invite them to church or they've got this thing that's happening in your life, and you're saying this is my opportunity to share my faith with them, to really preach the Gospel and invite them to make this decision for Christ, there's going to be more willingness on their end to hear what you're saying and more willingness on their end to come to church and to come to the Harvest Crusade. We need to build bridges to people and earn their trust. If you don't know anything about your neighbors and you don't know their names and you don't befriend them or do any of those things, why would they listen to you when it comes to what you believe?
Why would they care? It's been said, you know, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. That's great. You've got a great biblical understanding. You've got your theology worked out.
Do you show people that you care? Because if it doesn't drive you to do good things and to work in people's lives and to be a good witness, what good is it? James says faith without works is dead. We're going to do a Bible study on that in the near future in the book of James. And so it's an encouragement for all of us to live out what we believe. And so we've got glorification, edification, and evangelization. This is the process of discipleship.
This is kind of a whole picture of what we should be doing as Christians, living our life for God's glory, edifying, growing deeper in our faith, a process that should never stop. You never reach spiritual maturity. You never get to a place where you say, yep, I know it all. I'm done. I don't need to do any more. I don't need to study God's word. I don't need to have quiet time. I don't need to spend time in prayer. I've arrived.
Wow, okay, you need it more than anybody else probably. So, glorification, edification, and lastly, evangelization. Share what God has done for you.
Talk about it. Live out your faith. My dad has explained it this way. Upward, inward, outward. Upward, inward, outward. Upward, the glorification of God. Inward, the edification of ourselves and the saints. And outward, the evangelization of the world. This is what our mission is as Christians. This is what our mission is as the church, as the Christian church. The church is not just a building. It's not a business. It's not a political movement seeking personal gain.
No, the church is people from every walk of life, every continent, every tongue, every race, every age, men, women, married, unmarried, rich, poor, all proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord and sharing this with an unsaved and broken world. Amen? That is what we are here for. That is why God has put us on this earth, is for his glory.
Upward, inward, and outward. So, coming back to my message title. What the heck does this have to do with dating?
I didn't put heck in the message title, so you don't have to write that down. For those of you who are single and are dating or want to date, I hope that this provides some perspective on you, a lens which you use to look at your singleness, to look at your dating, and for the rest of us, to look at every season of our life. How can I glorify God in this season?
Whatever place you find yourself in, again, singleness, dating, marriage, career, education, hospice care, your suffering, your parenting, that you would see God has a purpose in every season of your life. It is estimated that one-third of the American population is single, meaning they are single by choice, or they are divorced, or they are widowed. One-third of the American population. Some people chose the single life. Other people, the single life chose them.
Here's the good news. God is with you. God is with you in your singleness. He is with you. It could be that you're single and you want to find a mate, and you want to find someone to pursue marriage with, and you can't wait until that day, right?
That's all you think about is getting to that next place, checking that box, oh, I'm married now, or I've got a girlfriend, I'm getting to that place, and you've got your Christian dating app that you refresh every 15 minutes to see if anybody's in-boxed you to check for new activity. It is so important that in this season, you learn contentment, that you learn to be content with what God has given you, because if you are discontent in this season, you will be discontent in the next season. If you don't learn contentment in this season, you will be discontent in the next for sure. Habakkuk 3.17-19 says this, a beautiful passage.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food. The flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls. Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God the Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the deer's.
He makes me tread on my high places. And so the Bible tells us, even in the valleys of life, even if you're going through a dry spell, even if things are not going the way you want them to go, you feel alone. You feel misunderstood. You feel like the world is against you because this world is all about married people and it's all about dating people, and being single is just so hard. Listen, let God be your joy. Let Him be your strength.
And so maybe you're single because you're waiting for the right person, or maybe you're single because you want to be. Hey, that's okay. That's good too. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 7, now concerning the matters about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. And he continues on in verse 9, but if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. So an interesting passage for sure.
It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. What he's referring to here is the fact that, well, first of all, the apostle Paul, he's a guy that we should listen to. He's got some qualifications for sure. He wrote a third of the New Testament. He covered more ground, did more work than any of the other apostles, probably combined. He's kind of like the Christian Terminator T-1000. Like he walks through the chain link fence and he just melts right through it.
Nothing could stop him. One of my favorite stories is about when the apostle Paul was in Lystra, and he was drug out of the town, and they took him outside of the city, and they stoned him to what they thought was death. Paul actually talks about a guy he knew that died and went to heaven, probably referring to himself. And this is when we think Paul actually died, and then he was raised back to life. He came back to life after he was stoned, being drug out of this town for preaching. And what did he go back and do?
He went back into the town and preached some more. Like if that doesn't describe a Christian Terminator, I don't know what does. And so Paul, when he says this, when he says it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman, but if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. As we hear what he says, it's important to know the apostle Paul was speaking from a place of spiritual maturity, from perspective. He understood that because he was single, he was able to be more mobile.
So he's speaking from a place of maturity, spiritually speaking, and strategy, and also mobility. Paul did not have to concern himself with his wife or with his children when he was facing persecution and he was facing death threats and suffering and serving the Lord and being shipwrecked and being attacked by snakes and all this crazy stuff. He was able to do that with 100% of his energies because he did not have a wife and he did not have children. He did not have to concern himself with those things.
He was able to commit 100% of himself to the Lord and his purposes. And for some here today, this is what God has called you to. Let me just tell you, this is commendable.
This is a beautiful, wonderful thing and it is biblical and you belong here in church and in this community. I know the culture today can make it seem like if you are single or divorced or widowed that you are the odd man out and you are the odd woman out. All these holidays that have been, you know, marketed to us, Valentine's Day, oh, you just cringe knowing that Valentine's Day is around the corner and someone's gonna ask you, so do you have a special someone in your life yet? You're like, I haven't for the last 39 years. Why would I now? Please stop asking. Or you go to your friend's wedding and everyone's asking you, so are you next?
And you're like, probably not. Stop asking, please. Contrary to what the culture might suggest, singleness is not a disability. Singleness is an ability. It's a weapon. Singleness is something that we can use for God's glory.
It's an ability. All the single people say amen. Amen.
Amen. Singleness is an ability to be more flexible, to be more mobile, and to be available for God's use. Paul says, he goes on and he says, an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs, how he can please the Lord, but a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world, how he can please his wife, and his interests are divided. Now this is not a criticism of a married person, but simply an acknowledgement that if you have the responsibilities of a married person, you are going to be more tied down. It's an acknowledgement of the responsibilities you take on when you say, I do. But when you're single, you can do things you could not necessarily do if you were married.
So what's the point here? Whatever your state, seek to glorify God. Whatever your state, in your singleness, in your dating, seek to honor God.
Surround yourself with other godly single men and single women and serve the Lord and grow in your faith and find friends and go on mission trips and make sacrifices. You have a beautiful opportunity that if you commit to the Lord, it will be a blessing that you get to share with other people and you will also get to partake of. The Bible tells us that God knows every bird that falls to the ground. It tells us that God knows every hair of our head and they are numbered. The Bible tells us that God knows our thoughts before we think them, that He keeps our tears in a bottle. Friend, if God cares and is interested in details like this, how much more so is He interested in who you will spend the rest of your life with? He knows what your needs are. And unless you are called to remain single, as some here may be, you can know that He has handpicked someone for you right now.
He has that perfect person for you. And so while you are dating, while you are single, make the goal to glorify God. Glorify God with the way you live your life. Edify, allow Him to edify you and you would grow deeper in your faith and your spiritual fortification would be built up. Share your faith with other people. Share what God has done for you and invite them to become part of the process and they would begin this process and share with other people.
This is discipleship. So while you're dating, make that your goal, following His plan and His will rather than your desires and your impulses, seeking to edify each other in the relationship, building each other up spiritually, praying for each other, reading Scripture together, studying God's Word, calling each other to further spiritual death. This is what you can do in your relationship as you are dating and that you would also have your dating, your according, be something that is a witness to people as well. So as you're looking for this mate, this boyfriend, this girlfriend and you just start dating, what should your goal be? That we'd fall in love with each other. Look, that's going to happen naturally. God designed us in such a way where it's going to work out. Don't worry, you're going to like that person. What you want to do is set the foundation so that you'll have a successful marriage.
You'll have a successful courting period, a successful dating, a successful marriage, a successful parenting. Lay the foundation. It's for God's glory.
It's for your edification. Build each other up. Have your relationship, your dating, your according, be a witness to other people on the outside. Wow, you guys aren't having sex before you get married? You guys should move in together before you get married to make sure everything works out.
No, actually, we're not going to do that. We're going through marriage counseling at Harvest and we're learning about what marriage is, why it happens and what He has put us together for and how to have conflict resolution. We don't just leave each other when we get into an argument, but we actually are committed to the deeper relationship here because of what God has called us to.
Make that be a witness to the people on the outside. Scripture also tells us in 2 Corinthians 6, 14, an important thing, do not be unequally yoked with believers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? To be yoked, this is a phrase that is lost today, especially on us in Southern California because we're not farmers.
Some of us may be, that's awesome, we love you. We need farmers. A yoke was a piece of wood that literally strapped two animals together. Think of two oxen, right? And they're pulling that old Oregon Trail. You guys, how many people here played Oregon Trail, right? Betsy died of typhus, all right?
You remember that game. But they would have the two oxen or two animals of any kind yoked together. And what we are seeing here, Paul is saying, don't be unequally yoked. What you wouldn't want to do is have a living oxen and a dead ox yoked together because what's going to happen is the strong, healthy ox begins to pull what's going to happen.
He's going to be dragging this one along and only for so long and eventually he's going to succumb to the fact that he's going to get pulled in that direction. And so if we are unequally yoked, a believer and a non-believer, a really spiritually mature Christian and a spiritual infant who doesn't understand the basic principles of nourishing themselves and feeding themselves and being in God's word, you're going to get pulled in the direction of the weaker one, right? Or if you have two animals, you have a thoroughbred horse and then you have a donkey, right? The thoroughbed's going to get pulled in the direction of the donkey. Now, which one is the donkey?
Which one is the thoroughbred? We won't get into that, but do not be unequally yoked with non-believers. Dating is the time for you to figure out who a person really is and to figure out if this is the right mate for you. It's been said that when you're dating, keep your eyes wide open. Keep your eyes wide open. And after marriage, half shut, right?
Dating is the time to look at the things and be aware of the problems and the issues that that person has. And after you get married, you're aware of them. Don't expect them to change.
If anything, it's going to get worse because now they're comfortable and they don't have anything to prove. So you want to be fully aware of what you're getting yourself into. Don't be unequally yoked.
Don't be unequally yoked. I think one of the best ways to get to know someone is by being friends first. Just be friends with this person. I think this whole idea of dating and going on a date, there's so much pressure and tension, like the guy showing up in a suit with a dozen red roses at a fancy formal dinner, and they're getting to know each other while eating, and they're too embarrassed to take, like, a normal-sized bite because they don't want, you know?
It's like, just stop. Go hang out in a collective group of friends. The church is the best place to get to know people and get to become friends with someone. I never dated my wife. I never asked her out on a date when I thought she was cute the first time I saw her. No. She showed up at a Bible study, and we chatted afterwards, and then I aggressively stalked her on social media. No, just kidding. We dated before social media was around.
No, not really. Actually, I think I direct messaged her and was like, hey, I saw you at church last week, and there's, like, a Halloween party happening, you know, next week, and it's going to be really fun. Everybody from that group is going to come. You should hang out.
It'd be fun. I was just reaching out to her, trying to help her get plugged into this group of friends as she was trying to, well, truly, she was trying, uh-huh, sure. Well, you'll see where it goes. We obviously ended up marrying, and so you see where it ends up. But I said, hey, like, you're trying to make new friends. I'm in a place where I'm, like, six months out of that. I made this new group of friends. It's the best thing you can do.
And isn't that so true? That's one of the hardest things as Christians, is to make new friends. Transitioning away from an old group of people, a group of people that you thought were friends, and you look back, and you kind of realize, oh, wow, we were just co-enabling each other. We were just doing the same things together, and we thought that's what made us friends, but actually, this was hurting us.
That's what it was for me. The hardest thing I had to do was make new friends, leave this old group. And so that's what I was trying to help her do, and anybody that came to this Bible study, and that's what we want to do here at Harvest for all of you. But as she was trying to make new friends, I invited her to come and hang out, and then she said, I can.
I'm not going to make it. And so, no big deal. She showed up a couple weeks later, and then she came, and we hung out afterwards, and we were friends. And then one week, she, you know, messaged me.
Hey, I need a ride to church. And so I came and picked her up. And from there, you know, we hung out in large social settings. We got to know each other. I saw how she interacted with people.
She saw how I interacted with people and other Christians. And gradually, the group got smaller and smaller and smaller until we realized, hey, we both like each other. And we started our courtship. We started our relationship. There was never a moment where it was like, will you, Brittany, be my wedded girlfriend?
It was like, no, stop with all these titles and these different things. Become friends with a person and see what God is doing in their life and see if they are a good match for you. We prayed for each other. We prayed with each other. We both had made the decision to pursue a relationship with God, and we wanted to tell our friends about what we had found in God. It was an intentional friendship that had marriage as the goal.
It was an intentional friendship that had marriage as the goal. And so I found a wife the one time in my young adult life that I was not trying to find a girlfriend. I was just saying, I'm pursuing God. Everything that I've looked for in this world has let me down.
All these decisions that I've made have just screwed things up, and you know what? This one thing is not letting me down, and it's my relationship with the Lord. And so as I pursued that first, for the first time in my life that I put God number one in my life, He brings me the thing that I have been looking for all along, a relationship with this girl. And now we've been married for 11 years, and I'm so thankful that He did do that. And I'm thankful too that He didn't bring her to me a year earlier, or two years earlier.
God's timing is perfect. So the best thing you can do for your Christian dating is put God first. The best thing you can do in your singleness, seek God's glory.
The best thing you can do as a parent, as a grandparent, as you are facing cancer, as you are facing a divorce in all of these areas, what's the best thing we can do? God, I don't know how this works out, but I want to seek your glory. I want to seek you. I want to follow you. I want you to be number one in my life. I know I haven't been that in the last whatever years, and I've made decisions, and I've made a mess, but you know what?
I want to invite you into this current situation. You'll be amazed at what God will do when you put Him first. The best thing you can do for your marriage, your career, your education, your friendships, whatever, the place in life here is to seek God's glory. Amen? And so in closing today, we see that God has called us to a certain way of living in every season of our lives. But I want to share that the reason God is worth living for is not because He's some distant deity, some creator out in the cosmos that we don't know. No, the reason that He is worth living for is because the deepest sense of fulfillment and joy and love and peace and forgiveness and purpose is through knowing Him as your God and your friend through His Son, Jesus, in every season. It's to God that goes with glory, because He has given us life and life more abundantly. He can do that for you today. If you haven't put your faith in Jesus yet, you have not started walking with God. If you have made Him the Lord of your life and put Him first in your life, I want to extend an invitation to you here today that are listening online at Harvest on Riverside, here at Harvest Orange County, outside in the surfboard area, wherever you might be listening, online, maybe even a later date or on the radio, wherever.
Wherever. God can do this for you. He can speak to your heart. He can restore what the locusts have eaten away, and He can show you a new way to be human, to live for God's glory. And so, Lord, we thank you so much that you have sent your son Jesus to die in our place so that we could have a relationship with you. We could be forgiven of our sin, and Jesus, you came not just to give us spiritual life and to save us from hell.
That would be enough. No, you came to give us life and life more abundantly, that we would have fun, that we would not feel guilty about the things that we do when we live our lives for you, that we would not feel remorse and shame for the way we acted the night before because of some act we thought that would feel good in the moment, but now we see it was sin, it was a bad decision, and it was against your will. We missed the mark. And so, Lord, we're thankful that you sent Jesus. We're thankful that you have a plan for our lives. We're thankful that you know the number of hair on our heads.
You know our days. You keep our tears in a bottle. And so, Lord, we know that you certainly care about those who are single and want to find a spouse that are single and want to just serve you and remain single. Lord, you have a plan for all of them. But the main plan that you have for all of us, all of mankind, is that you are not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.
And so while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying here together, if there's anybody that would say, yeah, that's me. I've seen that this world has just let me down, and I've made mistakes, and I feel guilty, and I wish I could hit the undo button and hit the reset button and go back in time and tell myself not to do that. Don't step into that relationship.
Don't do X, Y, Z. Friend, you can know today that you can be forgiven of your sin, that God can remove that shame, He can remove that guilt, and He can make you a new creation. And so if that's you and you'd like to put your faith in Christ today, I would invite you to just pray this prayer, that you would mean it in your heart. This is you talking to God and not the person next to you or the preacher up here on the stage. This is you talking to God, your Father who loves you and wants to hear. Pray this prayer. Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. And so I turn from that sin today, and I turn to you from this moment forward. Help me, Lord, to glorify you with my life in every season. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
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