We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.
Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. This is a contract with an escape clause. Problems come, they go. Maybe marriage licenses ought to be written on Etch A Sketches. That way, if the relationship gets turned upside down and shaken a bit, the license will automatically erase itself. Seriously, it's doubtful anyone enters marriage planning for it to end prematurely.
But in too many cases, it does. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie diagnoses the problem and spells out the biblical cure. And if you miss any of today's insight, get a replay at harvest.org. How many of you are married tonight? Raise up your hand if you're married. Raise your hand. Okay, how many of you are happily married? Raise up your hand.
Okay, that's almost as many. How many of you are single? Raise your hand if you're single.
Wow, quite a few of you. How many of you are happy being single? Okay, how many of you who are single wish you were married? How many of you are single?
How many of you who are married wish you were single? Don't. Don't do it. Well, in our series from Ephesians, we're in a new section now. And we're going to be talking about relationships, marriage and family and parenting and much more. So, let's turn in our Bibles to Ephesians chapter 5. And the title of my message is what the Bible says about singleness and marriage.
Ephesians chapter 5. Why don't we pray together. Now, Father, as we open your Word, I pray for every person here and every person watching and listening.
Lord, if they're single, I pray that you will help them to wait for the right person in their life. That godly man, that godly woman, that they would be patient, Lord. And if they're married, I pray, Lord, that their marriage would be strengthened. So, would you bless this time as we look in your Word and see what your Scripture says about relationships.
We ask this now in Jesus' name. Amen. Now, there are people that are sometimes called to be single for a lifetime. But a lot of singles today will be married in time. I'm going to show that nine out of every ten people are married at some point in their lives.
So, you know, pay attention to what we're sharing because even though you're not married yet, these truths will matter to you at some point in your life. But here's what I believe. I believe that as a single person and as a follower of Jesus Christ, God has someone picked out for you. Yeah, I actually believe that. Some don't, but I do.
I believe it's just that right person and you can start praying for that person right now. You know, it's a funny thing. When you're single, you often wish you were married. Oh, if only I was married, I know I would be happy. And there's some married people who would say, oh, if only I was single again, I know I would be happy. But here's the bottom line. There are advantages and disadvantages to being single. And there are, frankly, advantages and disadvantages to being married.
And I'll identify those in a moment. But here's what we want to do. We want to find contentment in the place where we are at right now. The apostle Paul said, I have found in whatever state I'm in, therein to be content. And then also we read in Hebrews, let your way of living be without covetousness. Be content with such things as you have, for he has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. So don't think if you're single, you're going to find your total fulfillment in marriage. It comes from your relationship with God first. Start there. Find your contentment there.
Walking with him. Now, it may be that the person God has chosen for you is someone you already know. And it just hasn't dawned on you.
And that does happen. Maybe a girl or a guy that has been a friend for years and then one day you just look at them with different eyes and say, hey, what about that thought? Then again, it may be someone you've never met before. It may be someone you will meet tomorrow or the next day.
But here's the deal. When you're looking for a guy or a girl that would be a prospect in the future for you to have a relationship with and possibly even to marry, you must always look for a godly person. A godly person. Not just someone who says they're a Christian.
Let me take it a step further. Look for someone more godly than you. My wife tells me that I said this to her once. Doesn't seem like a very romantic thing to say. But she said, you said to me early on in our relationship, Kathy, listen, if you ever get in the way of my relationship with God, you're out of here. I said, I really said that? She said, yes. And then I asked her, well, what did you think?
She said, I loved it. Because I was looking for a guy like that. That's what I wanted in a guy. So you have your priorities in order. But let me address for a moment the advantages of singleness. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 7 starting in verse 32. He says an unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord's work and thinking how to please him. But a married man can't do that as well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities, how to please his wife.
His interests are divided. In the same way a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and spirit. While the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities, how to please her husband. I'm saying this for your own benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best with as few distractions as possible. So when Paul says when you're married you must consider your mate how to please them, that's not a criticism.
It's just a practical acknowledgement of reality. See, when you're married you have to think about your husband. You have to think about your wife.
They're a very important part of your life and we'll deal with that more in our next message. It's not to say it's a bad thing to be married. In fact it's a very good thing to be married. Proverbs 18 22 says he that finds a wife finds a good thing and receives favor from the Lord. But when you're single you have mobility like you don't have when you're married. And then when children are born the responsibilities increase.
So here's what you want to do. You want to use that mobility to bring glory to God and do what you can for his kingdom while you can. You know when life is over three things are going to sort of bubble to the top of what really mattered in life. Three things, faith, family, and then a distant friends in the third category.
Faith. When I talk to people who have come to the end of their life they always think about how they should have been closer to God. How they should have spent more time in church and then studying the scripture and walking closely with the Lord. But always a close second, his family. All they have regrets. They have regrets about the way they treated their wife or their husband or their children. You know one of the glorious things God gave to us as a gift was we had a fantastic relationship with our son.
When he was unexpectedly called home to heaven. And so we didn't look back on our relationship with him with regrets. But we think about these things. On your deathbed you're not going to think about how much stuff you own. Because it won't matter.
Because I've often said you've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. You're going to leave it all. Your only concern will be who you're going to leave it to. You're going to think about God and you're going to think about family.
So instead of waiting until your deathbed with a life filled with regrets. Let's work on it now and get it right and have a strong and flourishing marriage. Far too many marriages divorce is considered as an option. In some of the instances I cited earlier after only a few days.
Recent surveys have revealed that as many as two-thirds of those interviewed who called themselves Christians. Thought that divorce was a reasonable solution to a problem marriage. I'm sorry but it isn't.
Listen to this. Wedlock should be a padlock. If marriage is miserable. If your marriage is miserable. The fault does not lie with the institution.
It lies with the participants. People get into a cycle of selfishness that they can't seem to break out of. And so you don't want to let that happen to you. Strong marriages don't come about by accident. It's not unlike your relationship with Christ. You show me someone that is growing spiritually.
And I'll show you someone that applies himself every single day. And the same is true of marriage. You show me a marriage that's strong. That's because they put effort into it. You show me a marriage that is weak.
That's because they're not putting any effort into it. It's been said that Christian life is like a greased pole. You're either climbing or slipping. And the same can be said of marriage.
The moment you stop progressing you begin the process of regressing. You must tend to nurture and care for your spouse and your family. We need God's help. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.
Thank you so much for everything. How encouraging to hear how this man was impacted by the ministry of Harvest. And if you have a story to share, email Pastor Greg. Well, we're digging into Ephesians today as Pastor Greg brings specific counsel to husbands and wives in his message what the Bible says about singleness and marriage.
Pastor Greg continues now. They're exposed or made manifest by the light. For whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore, he says, awake you who sleep.
Arise from the dead and Christ will give you light. Verse 15, see them that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Therefore, don't be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is and don't be drunk with wine in which is dissipation but be filled with the Spirit speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 21, I'm going to ask you to underline that verse.
We'll come back to it. Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Okay, so here's some takeaway truths about having a strong marriage.
Number one, if you want a successful marriage, shine the light of God's Word on it. Shine the light of God's Word on it. Verse 13, all things are exposed and made manifest by the light for whatever makes manifest is light. You know, when you can't find something, turn on the light. You ever lose something in your car? I have black interior in my car and I lose things. I've lost burritos that I haven't seen for months.
I thought I saw one climbing up into the child's car seat the other day and buckling itself in and it alarmed me. No, but seriously, you lose things. I lose my phone all the time. One of the most embarrassing things is losing your phone and calling it and looking at that little feature that shows you where your phone is and discovering it's in your back pocket or something like that. But sometimes you'll lose something in the car and you'll turn on a very bright light and start searching and there it is. I heard the story about a drunk man who was searching for his wallet under a street light. Someone asked him the question, did you lose your wallet here? He said, no, I lost it down the street, but there's no street light there.
See, it's no good to search for something if you go to the wrong place. And sometimes people will have marital problems and they'll say, well, we're getting counseling. Well, that's not always the answer because my question is, what kind of counseling? Are you getting biblical counseling? I've heard people talk about the counsel they have received from people they will usually pay a great deal of money to and the counseling is not biblical.
It's not correct, and I think it's counterproductive. We need biblical counseling. Psalm 1 says, blessed is a man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the word of the Lord, and in it does he meditate day and night. So we need to look at what the Bible says. I'll often ask these questions when someone comes to see me for marital counseling. Question number one, are you a Christian?
They'll usually say, of course. Oh, we love the Lord. Okay, you love the Lord.
Great. Number two, do you believe that the Bible is the word of God? Oh, yes, we love the word of God. Okay, number three, are you willing to do what the Bible says even if you find it difficult? Well, now they know they're in trouble. Because I'm going to tell them what the Bible says, and I'm going to ask them if they're doing it. So what I would say to them, I'm going to say to you right here, you would not hear anything from me privately that you won't hear in this message and the ones to follow. I've had people ask the question, well, what if you don't agree with what the Bible says? You really ready for the answer? Here's the answer. If you don't agree with what the Bible says, change your opinion because you're wrong and the Bible is right.
It's as simple as that. Change your opinion. If we're having problems in our marriage, we must admit we've strayed from God's plan, admit as husbands we have not loved our wives as we ought to, admit that perhaps you've not been the wife you should be. Every husband, myself included, could love my wife more.
Every wife, no, she could love more. So shine the light of the word of God on it and everything else for that matter. Point number two, wake up. Wake up, verse 14. Awake you who sleep. Wake from spiritual lethargy.
You can't just put this thing in cruise control and expect it to go well. You have to be alert and aware and be paying careful attention to that relationship that you are in. The moment you neglect your spiritual life, you're going to falter. You can't live on what has happened in the past as a follower of Jesus and the same is true for marriage. But culture does not value marriage. Now back when I was a kid, growing up, we had a lot of sitcoms like A Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons, The Donna Reed Show. And in almost all those shows, you had a husband and a wife together. The father was wise and understanding and the mother was caring and nurturing. In fact, when the kid would come home from school, mom would be in a nice little dress with pearls making fresh cookies. And I understand these were TV shows, but there was sort of the sense that the family is good of husband and wife together are good. A father and mother raising a child, that's good.
Not anymore. I mean now if you were to sum up father's and most sitcoms, you could just call the show dad's a complete idiot. You know, they don't value the family and now we have attacks against the family and then it just seems in so many shows, they feature immorality and they present it in an attractive way. And this is what we have to deal with.
So wake up to the fact that culture does not support the family. The sooner we know that, the better. Number three, walk carefully. Walk carefully, verse 15.
See that you walk circumspectly. What does that even mean? Well the word is the basic meaning of that which is accurate and exact. That which is accurate and exact.
It carries the idea of looking, examining, and investigating something with great care. Sort of the way you would look at a contract. Let's say you're buying a car or a house. Oh man, as they say, the devil's in the details. Read the fine print.
Understand what you're committing yourself to. Or when you're building something and you look at the plans, get it right. And in the same way, we read the scripture, we know what has been approved by God. So study it carefully. Look at the details of it. It tells you how to do it. How to do it, walk carefully. This also carries the idea of alertness.
Alertness. Where you go into your marriage saying failure is not an option. Winston Churchill once said, victory is not won by evacuation. So you just say, we're gonna make this marriage work. You know, when we got married, I've never even considered anything close to divorce. Not that we even came to that point. But that was never an option.
That's sort of a trap door out. Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham was once asked the question, if she ever thought of divorcing her husband Billy. She said, never thought of divorce. Murder, yes. Divorce, no.
That's a joke by the way. Number four, use your time wisely. Use your time wisely. Verse 16, redeeming the time because the days are evil. The word redeem means to make the most of your time.
Use your time wisely. You know, years ago, the prophet came to see king Hezekiah. And Isaiah said to him, Hezekiah set your house in order, for you shall die. My question for you is, is your house in order? The word redeem also means to make best use of every opportunity.
So do what you can to strengthen the marriage. . Good counsel today on doing whatever it takes to keep our marriages strong. Pastor Greg Laurie leading our studies in the book of Ephesians here on The New Beginning. Pastor Greg? I'm speaking with Randy Alcorn, the author of Heaven for Kids. The book that we're offering this month is a resource for all of our listeners so you can learn more about the afterlife and especially how to share it with your children. Randy, one of the questions I've had asked of me over the years is, what happens to pets when they die? Now we've heard it said, all dogs go to heaven.
I think I can make a pretty good case for cats not entering into heaven. I'm just kidding. Maybe not, I'm not sure. Send your cards and letters to Greg Laurie Yes, that's right. No, I'm kidding. I'm kidding people.
But play a laugh track, Dave, so they know I'm kidding right now. Okay. Okay, so anyway, seriously though, Randy, what happens to our pets? We can grow very attached to them. They become a part of our family. When a pet dies, where do they go? Well, I just had an experience that was a year and a half ago when our golden retriever, Maggie, was going to die and we knew it. I took a walk with our grandsons Jake and Ty who live nearby.
They'd grown up around Maggie and when they would come over and spend the night, we'd go on walks and adventures together out in the woods and along with Maggie. So I got those guys together on one last walk with Maggie and they were saying goodbye to Maggie but I was saying, you know, here's the thing guys, I really believe, I actually believe that Maggie will be on the new earth with us and here's why. Because Romans chapter 8 says that the whole creation groans with longing looking forward to the resurrection of God's children.
He keeps saying the whole creation. There's people grown and we suffer. Well, who else suffers besides people? Well, animals. And so he's saying the whole creation is looking forward to the resurrection.
Well, why? It would make no sense to be saying that unless there were other suffering beings and who else would that be but animals? So then it comes down to, I think that's clearly saying some animals alive today who have suffered in this world will be on the new earth and live there forever. Animals can have a ministry in your life. I come home to my dog Gracie now every day and I'm telling you she is a comfort to me since Nancy has gone to be with Jesus. I mean, I loved that dog before but there's times where I'm crying and she's just cuddling up to me and God is ministering to me through her. So I think that the relationships that we have with animals, I would not at all be surprised if they're there.
In fact, I'd be very surprised if they weren't there. Excellent. These are insights from author Randy Alcorn about how to share the truth of God's word specifically on the topic of heaven with the little ones at different ages. And the title of the book is Heaven for Kids and we want to send this book to you for your gift of any size as we continue to preach the gospel and teach God's word to people here in A New Beginning. Yeah, and your investment helps that important work continue.
So thanks so much for your partnership. Get in touch today for your own copy of Heaven for Kids. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's 24-7 phone number 1-800-821-3300.
Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org. Hey everybody, what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. When is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home. Join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for harvestathomeatharvest.org. Well next time, more help for marriages from Pastor Greg's series called Am I Doing This Right?
We'll see if we want a better spouse, we need to be a better spouse. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app, and help others find hope.
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