You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org Then you marriage and say, I'm making a stand today. This house is not going to capitulate to this culture. We will serve the Lord.
This house is going to stand for Jesus Christ. Ever taken a close look at tree rings? The age rings we see when a tree has been cut down?
When the rings are unusually close together, it indicates that drought, disease, or harsh temperatures were threatening that year. Well, in our marriages, when the forces of our culture are threatening, it's a good time for spouses to draw closer together, not further apart. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings biblical insight on just how we can build a marriage that will stand strong.
Today is the last message in our family series called Am I Doing This Right? And the title of this message is How to Divorce Proof Your Marriage. And I want you to turn to Matthew chapter 19. Now I want to talk about how to divorce proof your marriage. Now this isn't 100%, and there are allowances in scripture for divorce, but that's the last place we want to go.
We want to do everything we can to prevent that. And God in his word tells us how to have a strong and long lasting and happy marriage, but there's God's part and there's my part. You see, after you say I do, there's a lot more to do. Okay, so there's really the most serious threat against marriage of all is divorce. Let's see what Jesus said about divorce. It's very quiet in this room, isn't it? I know this is a very heavy subject.
I'll try to make some stupid jokes sometime soon. Matthew 19 verse seven. They asked Jesus, why did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and put her away? He said Moses, because of the hardness of your heart, permitted you to divorce your wives.
I would underline two words, command and permit. Why did Moses command, they said, to give a certificate of divorce? He says, no, actually because of the hardness of your heart, he permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another commits adultery.
Whoever marries her who has divorced commits adultery. So they said command, he said permit. Why did Moses command divorce? Oh, hold on guys. He never commanded it, alright. He permitted it. Why?
Because of the hardness of your heart. See, in this culture, women were really mistreated. This is why it's so absurd to say that the Bible is against women or that the authors of scripture were misogynists and chauvinists.
Now give me a break, it's the very opposite. The Bible elevated the woman to her rightful place. In this culture, even in Jewish culture, a woman could be divorced for almost any reason and she could be thrown out of the house and falsely accused and have no means of income or anything. And so it's allowed under certain circumstances. When is divorce allowed? Divorce is allowed when sexual immorality takes place.
Verse nine, Matthew 19. If you divorce your wife except for sexual immorality. So if one of the spouses has been unfaithful sexually, that is technically grounds for divorce. It also technically is grounds for forgiveness.
Every effort should be made to restore a marriage and examine the steps that led to this and then put into place some preventative measures. And so it doesn't mean you must divorce, but there is an allowance given in scripture by Jesus himself. The other reason divorce is allowed is desertion. Desertion. First Corinthians 7 13, it says if a Christian woman has a husband who's an unbeliever and he's willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.
That's very important. Because sometimes Christian wives find themselves married to non-Christian men and vice versa. They think, well, God wants me to divorce them and remarry a Christian. No, actually, even if you're married to a non-believer and I don't know how you found yourself in that place, maybe you just said I'm going to marry this guy or this girl even though they're not a Christian. Or maybe you became a Christian after you got married. Whatever it is, if you're married to a non-believer, you shouldn't leave them because of that alone.
We already talked about what it says in 1 Peter 3. Without a word, seek to win them by the way that you live, wives. But then he goes on, 1 Corinthians 7 15, but if a husband or a wife who isn't a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases, a Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them for God wants his children to live in peace. So if one of the mates says, I'm done with this marriage, I don't want to be married to you anymore, I'm walking out and I'm never coming back again, you are not required to remain in that relationship. You are free later to remarry.
Now you may still attempt reconciliation and try to work it out somehow, but it happens. You know it's interesting though, I don't read anything about irreconcilable differences in the Bible. And that's why many marriages are broken up today, irreconcilable differences. And I've said jokingly before, I've had irreconcilable differences with my wife for 50 years. We're very different people.
We couldn't be more different. She likes certain things, I like other things. She's very neat, I'm quite messy. She's sometimes late, I'm often early. She's cute, I'm fat.
What can you do? Look, it's irreconcilable. I'm saying this jokingly, but in reality you're always going to have differences.
So these are the two allowances given by Jesus. Now there's a lot more here and I literally can't deal with it all from a message. Sometimes you need to get biblical counseling and look at what your particular situation is. And there's also a whole other thing you could do on the topic of separation.
Because for instance if you're in a home where a husband or a wife is abusive and they're hurting you or the children, under no circumstances are you required to stay in that dangerous environment. So there could be cause for separation, but separation is always done with the hope of ultimate reconciliation. It's not like a half divorce. It's like, okay we're going to separate and I want you to be accountable for your actions and I want you to get your life sorted out and you need to get biblical counseling and then hopefully we can come back together in a marriage. And I've seen this work, but again this requires biblical counseling. I can't deal with it all here, but let me tell you an interesting story. I received a letter from a listener to our radio broadcast, A New Beginning.
They write, dear Greg, I've been listening to your program for 15 years. I was struggling with a marriage that was not going very well. I've been married for 25 years, but my husband and I got a divorce.
However, I was listening to your marriage series and I was able to grow and be changed and I learned how to love my husband again in a way I never knew was possible and were married again for the last five years. Isn't that great? So there's hope, you see.
She got remarried to her husband that she divorced. Isn't that great? Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We hear from so many people who find Christ through these studies, some in person and even some on the road. Pastor Greg, you led me to Christ many years ago.
It all happened when I was driving to work and channel surfing on my car radio while stuck at a red light. At first I had no interest in what you were saying, but then I felt captivated by your voice and the way you presented the gospel. I left my car radio on that station and listened to you every day on the way to work for the next two weeks before I finally gave my life to Jesus. I still have my New Believers Bible that your ministry sent me many years ago. Thank you, Pastor Greg. What a great story of how Pastor Greg's teachings from God's Word have made an impact in this woman's life. If you have a story to tell, I hope you'll contact us today. Email Pastor Greg, Greg at Harvest.org. Again, Greg at Harvest.org. Pastor Greg is presenting an important study today on how he can build marriages that go the distance. The final message from his family series.
We need to divorce proof our marriages. I read an article a while ago about one of the wildfires here in California. They happen every summer. There was an entire neighborhood that was burned to the ground lying in charred rubble. But yet in the middle of all of these burned out homes, one home survived it all. It did not burn.
It was darkened a bit by the smoke, but it escaped unscathed. And the man who had built the house was interviewed. Like, why did your house stand when all the others burned to the ground?
Here's what he said. Quote, we went beyond what was required and made it even safer. He said, well, what did you do? He said, well, we had double paned windows, extra thick stucco walls, sealed eaves, a concrete tile roof, and abundant insulation. So the firefighters came in. They said, this house, this is where we're going to make a stand.
And so that's where they started to fight the fire and the house survived. I'm asking you to make a stand today. Only you can do this. I can't do this for you.
We can't all do this for you. You men, you women, you families, you marriages, say, I'm making a stand today. This house is not going to capitulate to this culture. This house is going to stand for Jesus Christ. As Joshua said, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Christ is the head of this home. And we're going to seek to do what the Bible says, not perfectly, not flawlessly, but we're making a stand here.
So it's always a good idea to sort of make sure the brush is cleared, dead trees removed, dry grass removed, deny the wildfire, the handy fuel it needs to race towards your home even faster. You say, well, my marriage would never fail. Oh, it could, but it doesn't have to. So periodically, ask yourself some hard questions. Husbands, you ask yourself, am I loving my wife as Christ loves the church?
Let me just give you the answer. No, you aren't. And by that, I mean you can always do better. And I include myself in that. Number two, wives, you ask yourself the question, am I respecting my husband? Am I submitting to his loving servant leadership? Thirdly, am I denying myself and putting the needs of my mate above my own? You might ask yourself, are there any flammable materials, so to speak, that are laying around my marriage?
Is there a relationship I'm involved in that could put distance between my mate and myself? A practical note, guys, you can't have a best friend that's a girl unless it's your wife, okay? Wives, you can't have a best friend that's a guy if it's not your husband. Now, I was with my granddaughter, Allie, recently, and she said, Papa, are you my best friend? I said, I am. So in that case, it's okay, all right? I have another best friend who's my granddaughter. But here's the point, though.
It just doesn't work practically. You see, most affairs happen in the workplace. People you work with, people you interact with, and then you become involved with socially, then you become buddies, and maybe you're texting or you're communicating. Oh, well, we're just friends. We're just friends.
Don't be very careful. Is there any relationship you're involved in that could put distance between you and your mate? Your husband, your wife should be your best friend. They should be the one you're in constant communication with, right?
So keep that in mind. Here's another thing. Is there any activity I'm involved in that drives my wife and I apart? Maybe it's something the guy does. He says, I wish you wouldn't do that so much. Wish you would spend more time with me.
Or he says the same to her. Or are you leaving and cleaving? Remember, we learned that in the first message. For this God shall amend, leave his father and mother, and cleave her, be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. And remember that the word cleave means to hold onto or to be glued together. So we're holding onto each other and building our marriage on the Lord.
And are we doing what the Bible says? Look, in conclusion, life is short. It goes by so quickly. And one day, you're going to be sitting on the front porch in your rocker in your retirement, or maybe in a convalescent home, or maybe even lying on your death bed. And you're going to reflect back on your life. And I'll tell you what, your career won't matter much at that point. How many objects you own won't matter.
In fact, the challenge will be, who am I going to give all this stuff to, right? When you look at all your accomplishments, here's what's going to matter. Were you faithful to your spouse? Did your marriage last? Do you have a family?
Maybe you didn't have children, maybe you did. But you have this legacy. You're leaving, and that is a great accomplishment. Don't lose this.
So here's some practical steps in closing to protect yourself and your family. Number one, walk with God. This is the most important thing. Walk with God. Just walk with God each and every day. I feel like if you walk with God, everything else finds its proper place. You know, love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.
And then Jesus says, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we'll say, love your wife or your husband. Really, if you love God as you ought to, you'll love your wife as you should. You'll love your husband as you ought to. You'll love your children. Walk with God.
David fell into this sin, and he wasn't walking with God at that particular time in his life. Two, spend time with your spouse or walk with your spouse. Cultivate communication. Cultivate romance. Don't rest on your laurels.
The best defense is a good offense. Thirdly, don't walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Avoid all relationships that are flirty or could lead to something else.
Avoid friendships that would encourage such activity. And count the cost. Count the cost because if you go down this road and you end up in adultery or divorce or whatever it is, it's going to be a sad, difficult path for you. You say, well, wow, Greg, okay. But what about the person who's committed adultery? What about the person who's divorced?
So I guess they're just failures and they ought to just hang their head in shame and go stand in the corner, right? Look, God gives second chances, okay? He forgives.
And if you failed, you need to ask for his forgiveness. Remember that woman who was caught in the actual act of adultery and they threw her before Jesus? I don't know where the guy was. There was a guy involved, clearly. But they took it all out on her. And there she is. And they said, the law says she should be stoned.
What do you say? We all remember Jesus stooped down and wrote in the sand. We don't know what he wrote. But the Bible says they left from the eldest to the youngest, which causes me to think he might have put a name down and written maybe what their secret sin was.
And so everyone was gone. And he looks at the woman and he says, woman, where are your accusers? And what I find interesting is the word he uses for woman. It was a term of respect.
Almost as though he said ma'am or lady. Lady, ma'am, where are your accusers? She says, I have none, Lord. He says, neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.
He forgave her and he gave her a second chance. And God will give you a second chance as well. But stop excusing it.
Stop blaming others for it. Assume full responsibility and ask for his forgiveness and the Lord will give it to you. But every one of us needs the forgiveness of God.
Because every one of us breaks God's commandments and we fall short of his standards. So I'd like to close by asking the Lord to strengthen our families and strengthen our marriages and help each one of us to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ. So let's all pray. Father, I pray now for every family represented here.
Wherever they are. Every marriage. Lord, strengthen it.
Lord, we want to make this stand here. Do not let these marriages unravel. We know so many of the problems in our culture today and in our nation are because of broken homes. Let us have a strong home. Not just a home holding together but a vibrant, happy home that is a powerful testimony to a lost world. And if there's marital problems represented here right now, help, Lord, each one to do their part.
And put the needs of their mate above their own. And help us, Lord, all to walk with you and forgive us of our sins. And there might be somebody here today that has never asked Jesus Christ to come into their life to be their Savior and Lord and it all starts here. And if you've never asked Jesus to come into your life, why don't you just pray this prayer after me. In fact, why don't we all just pray it out loud together. Just pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner.
But I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross from my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
God bless you. An important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie with those making a decision for the Lord today. And if you've just made that change, if you're making a first time commitment to the Lord, we want to first welcome you into the family of God and then we want to help. Let us send you our new Believer's Growth Packet. It's a collection of resources that will help get you started off right in your new walk of faith. Again, we'll be glad to send you our free new Believer's Growth Packet when you call 1-800-821-3300. Call any time 1-800-821-3300.
Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well Pastor Greg, we have a special guest in the studio today, a good friend of the ministry.
Yeah. Maybe you could provide the introduction. Well, Levi Lusko is our guest right now and he's written a brand new book called The Marriage Devotional.
He wrote it along with his wife and he deals with a lot of very important topics including parenting. Boy, is that challenging today, right now. So Levi, you have a lot of experience. You have five children, one is in heaven, little Lenya. And you have daughters and now a son. Tell us a little bit about the challenges of parenting and give some advice on how to do it better. Well, there's definitely a struggle and a learning curve there, Pastor Greg. But, you know, a lot of marriages make the mistake, unfortunately, of deprioritizing the marriage the moment a child comes along.
And it's easy, you know. Johnny's got to get to soccer and Ruth's got piano lessons and, you know, all this. And pretty soon the marriage ends up on the back burner and it's not the source of strength that it needs to be for the kids to have the confidence they need to have. And something as simple and as practical as asking the question, is there a child sleeping between you? Child-centric parenting is a tragedy because putting the kid in the middle, putting the kid where they're kind of like, hey, they cry when we go on date nights, so we don't go on date nights. They would put up a fuss if we went out of town together and did a marriage retreat, so we're not going to do it. And I've talked to child counselors who say that's too much weight to put in a child. Ironically, the kid may cry when you go out for a date night, but they're also going to develop the confidence that, hey, this home isn't about me.
It doesn't rotate and revolve around me. My parents care more about Jesus and each other, and that gives me hope going out into the world that one day I'm going to find a marriage like that myself. And you don't want the empty nest season to expose an emptiness in your marriage.
So you want to maintain that connectivity all throughout those years. And it's a little bit of a hot take culturally speaking, but if there's a child literally sleeping between you, then there's not things happening in the marriage bed that should be happening that's going to help you guys stay meaningfully connected, and the devil will be able to get in between you two. Wow, great and practical insights from Levi Lusko from his new book, The Marriage Devotional. Order your copy from us right now, and we'll send it to you for your gift of any size.
Yeah, that's right. And the subtitle is, 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage. You can read them once per day or once per week if you'd like. Practical biblical counsel to take your marriage to the next level. And when you partner with us so these daily studies can continue, we'll be glad to send this resource to thank you. So give us a call today at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or write, A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.
Or just go online to Harvest.org. Well next time, Pastor Greg brings a powerful step-by-step study on how to follow the Lord's plans for a more successful and rewarding prayer life. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Lord. This is the day, the day when life begins. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at Harvest.org.
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