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The Strong Shelter of a Husband's Love
Ephesians 5:25-32
Skip Heitzig

Ephesians 5 (NKJV™)
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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House That God Builds, The

OK men, it's your turn today. God's blueprint for the husband in a marriage is in view here. You will discover that the kind of love the Bible speaks about a husband having provides a secure shelter for his wife. This kind of love makes it easy for a woman to submit to you. I believe that the husband holds the keys to a successful relationship by the way he initiates and the way he cultivates love within a home. May God raise up more real men!

In today's society, we get a lot of mixed messages when it comes to marriage and the family. Seemingly endless numbers of self-help books line the shelves of every bookstore, but sometimes it's hard to know which sources to trust. We do know that the Bible is the ultimate source for truth. In this two-volume series, Pastor Skip Heitzig explores marriage and family issues through a biblical lens. Discover God's blueprint for building healthy relationships and a godly home.

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series

Outline

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  1. The Meaning of a Husband's Love
  2. The Manner of a Husband's Love
    A. Sacrificial Love (v. 25)
    B. Sanctifying Love (vv. 26-27)
    C. Secure Love (vv. 28-30)
    D. Stable Love (v. 31)
  3. The Mission of a Husband's Love (v. 32)

Transcript

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One of my assistant pastors gave me this. It’s an illustration of a marriage problem put in computer language. How many of you have computers? Raise your hand. So, a lot of you will get into this. It’s a Tech Support request. The request is this: “Last year I upgraded Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0 and I noticed the new program began unexpected child processing, that took up a lot of space and valuable resources. No mention of this phenomenon was included in the product brochure. In addition Wife 1.0 installs itself into all other programs and launches during system initializing where it monitors all other system activity. Other applications such as Poker Night 10.3 and Beer Bash 2.5 no longer run, (laughter) crashing the system whenever selected. I can’t seem to purge Wife 1.0 from my system. I am thinking about going back go Girlfriend 1.0 but uninstall doesn’t work on this program. Can you help me?” “Dear customer,” this is from Tech Support, “Dear customer, this is a very common problem men complain about but is mostly due to a primary misconception. Many people upgrade from Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0 with the idea that Wife 1.0 is merely a utilities and entertainment program. Wife 1.0 is an operating system and it’s designed by its creator to run everything. Warning: do not try to uninstall, delete, or purge the program from the system once installed. Trying to uninstall Wife 1.0 can be disastrous. Doing so may destroy your hard drive and or floppy drive. Trying to uninstall or remove Wife 1.0 will destroy valuable system resources. You cannot go back to Girlfriend 1.0 because Wife 1.0 is not designed to do this. Some have tried to Girlfriend 2.0, or Wife 2.0 but end up with more problems than the original system. Look in your manual under Warning/Alimony/Child Support. Others have tried to run Girlfriend 1.0 in the background while Wife 1.0 is running. Eventually Wife 1.0 detects Girlfriend 1.0 and a system conflict occurs. This can lead to a non-recoverable systems crash. Some users have tried to download similar products such as Fling and One-Night Stand. Others often their resources, their systems become infected with a virus. I recommend you keep Wife 1.0 and just deal with the situation. Having Wife 1.0 installed myself, I might also suggest you read the entire section regarding General Protection Faults, Gaffs. You must assume all responsibility for faults and problems that might occur. The best course of action will be to push Apologize button, then Reset button as soon as lock-up occurs. System will run smooth as long as you take the blame for all GPFs. Wife 1.0 is a great program but very high maintenance. Suggestions for improved operation of Wife 1.0: Number one, monthly use of utilities such as TLC and FTB, Number two, frequently used Communicator 5.0.” Signed, Tech Support.

I remember how scared I was of the M word, that would be marriage. In fact, I knew the M word would lead to the H word, Husband. That was a big word to me way back when. I remember my wedding day and I was thinking as I was walking to the wedding party, “I’m going to be a husband now, for the rest of my life.” This is my final answer but it was the right answer. I got the jackpot. And it has enriched my life ever since.

Some relationships that are here represented right now are having problems. Some of those problems are overt, they’re pretty bad, your marriage is not on the Rock but on the rocks. Others of you, it’s not in crisis mode yet, it’s not desperate yet, it’s just sort of ebbing slowly away, erosion is taking place. Either way, the marriage is in trouble. Now you might come to church and put on a happy face but inwardly you’re hurting, you’re aching, the spark has gone out of your marriage. And maybe you’ve even gotten to the point where you think, “Well it’s supposed to be that way. You fall in love, it lasts for a while and you then just put up with each other.”

Like Little Suzie, for the first time she heard the story “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the great part of how Price Charming came and kissed her and the whole thing. And she couldn’t wait to go home and tell her mother. So she went home and she recounted the story of Prince Charming coming to give her this kiss. And then Suzie said to her mother, “You know what happened next, don’t you?” Her mom said, “of course I do, they lived happily ever after.” And Suzie frowned and said, “No, they got married.”

And some people think “That’s how life’s supposed to be, happily after and marriage aren’t the same. My prayer is that this series will put the spark back in your marriage if it’s waning or reinforce good habits and a good situation. I’ve counseled lots of marriages, after church on Saturdays, Sundays, and offices for many many years. I’ve discovered something. It’s an interesting fact many don’t think about, every person on earth is incompatible with every other person on earth. Every one of us is incompatible with every other one of us, at some level, at some point. And we need to work through that application, work through the process and come out the other side. You say, “yeah, but you don’t know my situation. I married Dr. Jekyl and I got Mr. Hyde.” But even so, your marriage can survive. And not only survive, it can thrive if you work at it, if you apply God’s principles. And that’s one of the underlying themes we’ve covered in this series: if we apply ourselves to God’s equipment, if we utilize it by the power of the Holy Spirit, our marriages can not just survive but they can thrive.

It was Robert Anderson who wrote, “In any marriage more than a week old there are grounds for divorce.” The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.” Now tonight I’m speaking primarily as the text shows to husbands, to men, to those who are called by God to be loving leaders of their household. I speak as a man, a husband, to other men. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” In fact, tonight’s message is called “The Strong Shelter of a Husband’s Love.” I’d like to talk to you about both the meaning and the manner of a husband’s love. Consider this Tech Support for Wife 1.0.

Let’s look at our text. “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. But that she should be holy and without blemish. So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, of his bones. For this reason (quoting Genesis) a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular, so love his own wife as himself. Let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before this week about our text. One time a wife is called to submit her husband, three times a husband is told in this passage, three times a husband is told to love his wife. Now, why is that? I can’t really answer that, I just found out that it was an interesting fact, it could be that we need to be told things over and over and over again before it really clicks. It’s interesting, the term husband comes from an ancient term that means a tiller of the ground, farmer, a cultivator you might say, or a manager. If you are reading the old King James Bible, you remember back in John chapter 15 where Jesus says, “I am the vine, my Father is the husbandman,” the farmer, the cultivator, the tiller of the ground. If you were to look up the word husband in your dictionary, like a Webster’s dictionary, the first meaning, at least in the dictionary I looked it up this week in, was a married man. The second definition is a prudent or frugal manager. Now what does all this mean to us? It means that a husband is somebody who cultivates the marriage soil, who manages wisely the home. Husbands, love your wives.

Men are to be initiators. They are to initiate with love. There are too many, unfortunately, passive Christian men who are not spiritual leaders. I’ll tell you why. Because it’s not always that easy, that’s why. An old Chinese proverb says, “It’s harder to lead a family than to rule a nation.” But we need leaders in the home. You know, sometimes I hear Christians who are very adamant about political needs, “We need good Christians leaders in politics. We need Christian President and Christian everybody, and I agree with you, it would be great. But you know what we need more than that? Christian husbands who are spiritual leaders. We need leadership in the home. Men who will be husbands, cultivators, managers, and take loving initiation. Here is the basic directive for the husband. Just as the wife’s basic role was to submit, the husband’s basic role is to love. And you know what that word is, agape, or agapao. And you know if you’ve been here for any length of time or listened to studies, or read books on marriage, that’s the deepest most far-reaching, most comprehensive type of love a person can have. It speaks of unconditional irrevocable love. That’s the standard. Husbands, unconditionally, irrevocably, love you wives. That tells me something. It tell me that though the husband is to be the head of the home, for the sake of authority and structure, he is another sense to be the heart of the home. It didn’t say, “Husbands, rule your wives.” “Husbands, subject your wives.” “Husbands, strong-arm your wives. Order them around.” Or, “Beat them.” But, love them. That is the husband sets the tone of love in a household. That is balanced leadership, authority balanced by affection. And you know what? When a husband loves his wife affectionately, unconditionally, irrevocably, she comes alive with proactive love.

Somebody wrote, “when iron is rubbed against a magnet, it becomes magnetic. Just so, love is caught, not taught. One hear burning with love sets another heart on fire.” Husbands, be leaders but be lovers. Now, if a husband is leader and not lover he’ll be an autocrat, a tyrant. But if he’s all lover and no leader, he’ll be sappy. And either way, wife will lose respect for imbalanced, improper leadership without love. One of the challenges we face, one of the problems we have, as men, is that we live in a culture that more and more has become a culture emphasized on self. Love yourself. Indulge yourself. You deserve a break today. Do this for yourself. So that today more and more people are getting into a relationship with the primary goal of, “What’s in it for me.” Personal fulfillment, “I want to be fulfilled in this relationship, that’s why I’m here.” The problem with that is, if down the line if fulfillment doesn’t come, if gratification doesn’t happen, “I’m going to bail out. I’m going to leave. I’m not feeling gratified.”

Now the Bible actually predicts this. In II Timothy chapter 3 we are told, “In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be unloving, unforgiving. They will love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” Listen to that last part again, “The will act as if they are religious but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” In other words, loose translation, they are going to go to church but they’re not going to come to Christ. They’re going to go to church, bring the Bible, bring the family, sing the songs, get up, leave, come back the next week. But they’re never going to be subject to the rules of their master and friend Jesus Christ. Or as the New King James puts it, “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

Listen to this letter from a churchgoing woman, a wife, “My husband left our marriage because he met someone he liked better. And she left her marriage because she liked my husband. My husband married this woman and they broke up two marriages involving five children. And now they go to my church. They sit in a certain pew in church and I sit there too next to my kids. And my church doesn’t have anything to say about the right or wrong of their actions.” So, we need to hear this men, “Husbands, love your wives.” Till, cultivate, love your wives.

Now, look at the manner of a husband’s love. You know, if it just said, “Husbands, love your wives, we might feel smug and say, “Well I do love her.” But now it says, “husbands love your wives,” and here’s the manner, “as Christ loved the church.” You go, “Now wait a minute. You want me to act like Jesus Christ. That’s unattainable.” And in one sense, I would agree that no husband has fully loved his wife this way. However, these are principles. You don’t think Paul would write something that’s unattainable, do you? He wouldn’t say, “Be Jesus Christ. Never make a mistake.” No, these are principles. And there are four ways a husband’s love can be like Jesus Christ’s love. It can be like Jesus Christ’s love when it’s sacrificial love. It can be like Jesus Christ’s love when it’s sanctifying love. It can be like Jesus’ love when it’s secure love, that is makes her secure. It can be like Jesus’ love when it’s stable love.

Let’s look at them, go back to verse 25, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church (notice this) and gave (that’s sacrificial) gave himself for her.” How did Jesus love us? Well, he loved us enough to leave heaven, come to the earth, take on the form of a human being, a man, and to suffer. He was spat at, he was rejected, he was mocked. You say, “Sounds like a typical day in my house.” I don’t think so. And then He loved us enough to die. The ultimate sacrifice, I would say the ultimate act of submission, to die for those He loved. Now I know what some men might be thinking when they hear that. I know men well enough to know that some are thinking, “Well I’d do that. I’d die for my wife. I’d take the bullet if I had to.” Great. If you can take the bullet, if you can die for your wife, it should mean that you could do lesser things short of death. She isn’t asking you to die. If you need to, fine. But she’s not asking you to die. Neither is the Bible. The Bible I think means live sacrificially for your wives. Let me ask you a question, husbands, when was the last time you sacrificed for your wife? When was the last time you got into her orbit? Asked her, “What do you want to do today? What would you like to have for dinner? You set the agenda, what can I do for you?” Something else about this, Romans chapter 5 verse 8, I’ll just read it to you. It says, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So, not only is it sacrificial love, he gave himself for us. But Romans says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So this is unconditional irrevocable love, even if your wife fails and sins. That means a husband can never say, “Love her, like Christ loved the church? She doesn’t deserve that.” That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t love people that deserve love. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That’s the whole point here. Agape love isn’t based on performance or worthiness, it is a choice. It is a choice. “I choose to sacrifice my life for your, dear.”

I love hearing kids answer questions and in this series I’ve brought up several answers they’ve had to specific questions about marriage and love. One group of kids was asked in a survey to define love. And they had typical kid answers. One answer is this, a girl said, “When a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and they smell each other (laughter) that’s love.” Another wrote, “I let my big sister pick on me because my mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her.” A little boy wrote, “Love is what’s on Valentine’s cards. You know all the stuff you’d like to say but you would never caught dead saying them.” One little girl got it right, listen to her answer. She describes love as this, “When my grandmother got arthritis she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails any more. So my grandfather does it for her all the time even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” That’s the meaning here of sacrificial love. “Love as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” So, when our love is sacrificial love, that’s like Christ loved the church.

There’s another way: when it’s sanctifying love. Look at the next verse. Verse 26, “That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word. That He might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. That she should be holy and without blemish.” Here’s the point, Jesus’ commitment to us, his love for us didn’t stop at the cross. He didn’t say, “Okay I’m out of here, leave me alone now, would you. I’m going back to heaven. Don’t even call on me any more, I’ve done my part.” No, it started there. Our redemption began there. But His love for us continues as He sanctifies us, He nurtures us. We grow in Christ. We grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. So husband, remember the term ‘tiller of the ground.’ This is where it comes into view, a husband is to cultivate, to till the marriage ground, so that the wife becomes mature. In a sense, the husband is drawing her away from the world, from worldly influences, from the defilement of the world, and closer and closer to Jesus Christ. Let me make it simple: it means that husbands ought to spend and need to spend time, time with their wives. You cannot sanctify, cultivate, without spending time doing it. And when a husband spends time with the relationship that sanctifies the wife or sets her apart for the husband.

Now every researcher who’s ever studied marriage, they’ve all told us that one of the key factors of a good healthy marriage is couples who spend time together. An article out of Psychology Today entitled, “Marriages made to last,” where the interviewers interviewed several hundred couples who had great marriages to find out what made them great. And they interviewed the husband and wife separately. They found out hat the top two things that keep a marriage going is when the spouses can say, number one, “My spouse is my best friend.” And number two is when they can say and mean, “I like my spouse as a person.” Best friend, I like him or her as a person. Now if that’s true, if you like your spouse as a person, then cultivate that love, let her know, husbands, you want to be with her. Let her know that. A big key factor.

Did you hear about the young man who fell in love with a girl and wanted to win her heart? So he wrote love letters to her, many of them. And though he wrote love letters to her, he never came by to see her. In fact, he wrote six and then seven letters a week. But he never went to see her. He upped the ante, three love letters every 24 hours. But he never went to see her. Finally, all together, there were a pile of seven hundred love letters, but never once did he come by to see her. So, she ended up marrying the postman. He came by to see her. Mr. Loveletter never showed up. Spend time, sacrificial love, sanctifying love.

There’s a third. It’s a secure love. Secure love. Verse 28, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. In other words, a man’s wife is an extension of the man. A man’s wife is an extension of himself. And he should care for her and when he does there will be a great sense of security. She will feel a part of him, she will feel an extension of him. Adam realized this back in Genesis 2. He realized, my wife’s an extension of me. What did he say when Eave came to him? “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.”

We as human beings do spend time taking care of ourselves. All of us do, all of us want to look cool, we want to look good, whether it means growing a goatee or shaving the goatee or combing the hair or dying our hair. Or certain clothes, we put on clothes that would flatter us. We put lotion on, we put makeup on, we paint, the whole thing. You know we do anything we can to look good. Nothing wrong with that. Men, as well as women, go to the gym to stay looking good, to stay strong. I go to the gym, I know it doesn’t show, but… Before, as were doing the baby dedication, Sam, I mean he looks huge, I said, “You work out don’t you? He goes, “Well I’m an ex-football player, so yeah I do work out.” And I thought, “You know I’ve worked in gyms for years, never will I look that buff. But men go to gyms, we go to gyms, we work out and we do something. There’s mirrors in the gym, for one reason, we like to check ourselves out. We all do that. We want to look cool. There was a study done in southern California. It was a simple study, they put a mirror in a public place in the Los Angeles area. They discovered two things: Number one, people like to look at themselves. Number two, men do it more than women.

Wives are to be an extension of their husbands, to be nourished, to be cared for. And when that happens, she feels very secure in his love. Just like when we nourish our bodies, when we eat right, we exercise right, we develop a sense of well-being. Right? You have a good exercise, you go, “Man I feel great.” Well when we care for our wife’s needs we give them a sense of well-being. One of the reasons that some wives find it hard to submit to some husbands is because they don’t feel secure by their husband’s love. They’re not really sure. Now I know this might sound really basic, but some men stop saying, “I love you” to their wives. It’s really hard for them to say those words for some reason after a while. “I l-l-l-o…” They can’t say it. Unless of course it’s ten o’clock at night, then, “Oh baby, I love you. I love you.” No you don’t, you don’t love me, you love you and you want me, that’s all that means. (applause) Say it frequently. “I told her that twenty years ago, it’s in writing.” Say it again and again and again. In fact, you might want to just do a little fun game, my wife and I do it, we try to see who will beat each other at saying, “I love you<” first in the morning. “I said it first.” Say it, mean it.

Then there is stable love. Verse 31, it says, “A man will leave his father and mother<” quoting Genesis 3, “Cleave unto his wife. The two shall become one flesh.” All of this speaks of a permanent stable love. It’s something we talked about a few weeks ago. First of all there’s leaving. That is, we begin marriage by severing one relationship to solidify another relationship. Everything takes back seat to this relationship. Then there’s cleaving which means to be glued inseparably, permanently together. In fact, it could only be described as “They become one flesh, one entity.” But the word love in verse 25, is a present active imperative. I would translate it by saying, “Husbands, continually, unceasingly, repeatedly love your wives as Christ unceasingly repeatedly loves the church. Without stopping. It’s the absence of this stability in marriage that causes many of them to fail. Here’s a pattern I’ve noticed: Man sees woman, man likes what he sees, man goes out of his way to demonstrate his love for that woman. Woman is flattered and responds favorably. Man proposes to woman, woman accepts. Man thinks, “I’ve won the conquest. I can now relax.” See a lot of men view dating and courtship like it’s the Great White Hunter. “I’ve gone out for the kill. Me Tarzan, you Jane, I’ve won.” And then they stop communicating, they stop showering love like they once did in that relationship. Without fuel to stoke the fire, the flame of love will soon subdue.

You’ve heard me say this, I love this quote, “Getting married is easy, staying married is more difficult, staying happily married for a lifetime is to be considered among the fine arts.” Men, I want you to become like Rembrandt here, Picasso, a fine artist. And I believe the key is with us. Sacrificial love, sanctifying love, secure love, stable love. And here’s why, this is the mission of a husband’s love, verse 32, “This is a great mystery that I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his wife as himself. And so let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Now you might be asking, “Skip, why is this stuff so important that you would devote a whole series on marriage relationships.” I’ll tell you why. Because marriage is to be a microcosm of a relationship that Jesus Christ and followers of Jesus Christ have. If you have a good marriage, a good Christian marriage is a good witness. Because what it does, it makes redemption visible. It lets unbelievers see how Christ loved the church and the church responds to Christ. It’s a great witness. When you have a husband who genuinely lovingly leads his wife by sacrificing for her and a wife who submits to her husband with great love like this, it’s a great witness. The reverse is also true. A bad Christian marriage is a bad witness, when there’s unforgiveness, there’s strife, there’s heartache. I mean think about it, if two Christians can’t resolve conflicts, what do they have to share about love and forgiveness and humility. I speak about Christ and the church. Jack Rhoda said, “A Christian marriage serves a threefold purpose: to enrich the lives of the man and woman, to create a family, and third to further the kingdom of God.

And so, you’re in a relationship, she blows it, she fails, she doesn’t submit the way you want to, she doesn’t pick up around the house like you want her to, the meals are burnet to a crisp; and unbelievers look at you and they say, “How do you deal with that?” I love her, I forgive her, I humbled myself before her. And she responds. Because that’s what Christ would do.

Do you remember a few weeks ago when we opened up our series, I think it was the second week, about the fall of the first family? We talked about the curse and how it all started this pull, this strife between men and women started back in the Garden. Back in Genesis 3:16 “God says, ‘Your desire for be your husband and he shall rule over you.’” In other words, you’re going to want to control your hubby and your hubby is going to want to subdue you. That’s where feminism began, that’s where chauvinism began. Now listen carefully, Ephesians chapter 5 is the reverse of that curse. This is the reverse, this is the undoing of what happened at the fall. If we apply these principles to our lives, even though we are sinful creatures, we in a sense reverse, undo that curse. This God’s design for a marriage. Yes, marriage can be as it once was intended to be by God. But takes humility, forgiveness, love, submission. And men, since this is for men, I speak as a husband to husbands, we need to die to ourself, we need to humble ourself. It begins with us, think about it, you want to neutralize an army, kill its commanding officer. You want to bust the morale of a nation? Destroy its prime minister or its president? You want to ruin a church, attack its pastor. You want to ruin a family, get is leader. So we have the keys to initiate a loving servanthood with our wives. Love, as Christ loved, and gave himself and sanctified and made us feel so secure and so stable by His neverending unconditional irrevocable love. Life gets harder as you move on. Wedding day is fun, it’s easy. It’s easy. But then you’re prepared for real life.

Dr. Robert Seiser performed surgery of a young woman to remove a tumor. Because he did that, he had to cut the facial nerve which rendered her paralyzed in her face, a palsy. Dr. Seiser, after the operation recounts this in his book, “I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face post-operative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth has been severed. She will be this way from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut that little nerve. Her young husband is in the room, he stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight isolated from me, private. “Who are they?,” I ask myself. He and this wry mouth that I have made, who gaze at each other so generously, so greedily. The young woman speaks, “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles, “I like it,” he says, “It’s kind of cute.” All at once, I know who he is, I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close, I see how he twists his own lips to accommodate hers, to show her that their kiss still works.” Now that’s reality, not for all of us, but that’s reality for some of us. We get married, we’re madly in love, and then life happens. Good things happen, some bad things happen. But we have said vows to each other. The man has looked his bride in the eyes and said, “Honey, til death do us part, I will love you no matter what.” And she’s so excited to hear that. She responds, “Til death do us part. To love and to cherish. For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer. To find grounds and continue to find grounds for marriage rather than divorce is a key, it’s continual.

Let’s bow our heads just for a moment and pray. Heavenly Father, we have spent weeks now looking at the first marriage, Your plans from the beginning, how they are fleshed out in the Old as well as the New Testament. Lord, we’ve looked at mutual submission, being filled with the Spirit. We’ve looked at the role of a wife in submitting to her husband, meeting needs. Tonight we’ve looked at the role of a husband, to unconditionally love as Christ loved the church. And though that sounds like a tall order, when our love is sacrificial love and sanctifying love and secure love and stable love. All of that produces a reversal of the fall. And a great blessing for our children. But Lord, we live in a day and age when people come to church but they haven’t come to Christ, they haven’t responded to Your love personally. The haven’t had their sins forgiven. They lack the power, though they’re very religious, they lack the spiritual power to do anything about the fallout in their lives. So Lord, I pray that not only would your people be filled with your Spirit, submitted to your Spirit, controlled by Your Spirit, and submissive to one another. But Lord, I would pray for those who have come tonight who are in marriages or contemplating marriage, who are going to church,. Who are being very religious, but they’re not subject to the power, the control of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that tonight some would come to Christ and would start a whole new chapter in their lives of salvation, where they feel loved and nurtured by You. And then show them how to do that to one another. So Lord, in this quiet moment we would just pray for those who don’t personally know You yet. We pray that they would make a commitment, to Jesus Christ.

As we’re praying for you tonight friend. I you’re here and you may have come to church, I don’t know, your whole life. But it’s not personal, you haven’t given your life to Christ, you haven’t been born again. Jesus said, “Unless you’re born again, you’ll never see the kingdom of heaven. If you want to know His love and forgiveness. I want you to respond right now where you’re sitting. As we’re praying for you, I want you to raise your hand up in the air and say, “Pray for me, Skip, because tonight I’m going to give my life to Jesus Christ. I’m going to start this new thing now.” God bless you, ma’am, right up in the front. Anybody else? You’re saying yes to Him. Yes sir, right in the middle. In the balcony. Anybody else? Raise it up. If your life isn’t right with God, make it right with Him right now. Toward the back, on this side, God bless you.

Father, we pray for these who have gathered tonight, some in the front, some in the middle, some in the back, but they’ve all indicated the need to let you control their lives, to give you the control, the pink slip. Run their lives, Lord. Lord, I pray then as they ask Jesus to come inside, that you would bring with that such as peace that passes understanding, such an acknowledgement of love. As they feel accepted by You, forgiven by You. The Lord, show them the right way to live as they grow in You. May the experience the unfathomable depth of Your love. And may that translate into everything they are and do. In Jesus’ name.

Wherever you’re seated tonight, I want you to ask Jesus into your life right now. If you raised your hand, talk to Him right now. Say, “Lord take may life. I give it to you. I surrender to you. I know that I’m a sinner, I ask You to forgive me. And I’m willing to turn from my sins, from my past, and I turn my life over to You. I want to know Your love. I want to know purpose in my life. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me, now help me to live for him. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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4/28/2002
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Your House, Your Choice
Joshua 24:14-15
Skip Heitzig
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Follow carefully how one man and one family made a huge difference in a nation that needed direction and a pattern. Upon reviewing the spectacular history of his people, Joshua stakes his claim—not so much on a physical portion of land as much as on a spiritual and relational heritage that would be markedly different from the other nations around them. The choice was concerning his own household. We face a similar challenge—to shape our world or be shaped by our world.
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5/5/2002
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God Plans a Wedding
Genesis 2:18-25
Skip Heitzig
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Today, we unroll the original blueprints for the structure of a good marriage. We will see and hear what the Divine Architect had in mind, as the very first marriage was planned by God, Himself. Let's go back in time—before the days of humanism, feminism, chauvinism, and polygamy. Let's go back to the days before no-fault divorce and prenuptial agreements. What was God's intention for the wedding and marriage that He planned?
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5/12/2002
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The Breakdown of the First Family
Genesis 3:1-24
Skip Heitzig
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Soon after God stated His intentions in the marriage relationship between a man and a woman, there were problems in paradise. The introduction of a third party into this perfect environment challenged the choices of this first couple. The repercussions of their decision is still felt today and replicated in relationships. But woven into the story is a promise of recovery and emancipation. The grace of God is abundant where the failure of man is prevalent.
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5/19/2002
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The Family: A Well-Lubricated Machine
Ephesians 5:18-21
Skip Heitzig
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Some engine noises can be very annoying. But the knocks, clangs, grinds and whirring that come from your car are all symptomatic of some problem deep inside. Mechanics are trained to help identify and repair the trouble. If not attended to in time, there may be bigger problems in the future, even complete failure. Today we look at the elements that contribute to a smooth running marriage. These are foundational and must be understood before individual roles are discussed.
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5/26/2002
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Submission: A Role With a Goal
Ephesians 5:22-24
Skip Heitzig
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God's plan for your life is the best plan for your life. He designed you to live a fulfilling existence that is overflowing with joy. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). In order to do so, we must function within the parameters of His will for the roles we occupy in life. After discovering last week that being filled with the Spirit and mutual submission is foundational in healthy marriages, today we look at the basic role of a wife.
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6/9/2002
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Weeds of Unfaithfulness In the Garden of Love
Matthew 5:27-30
Skip Heitzig
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A fifteenth century nobleman remarked, "It is with our passions, as it is with fire and water. They are good servants but bad masters." Every married couple needs to tend the garden of their love. That means of course pulling out the weeds that would lead to unfaithful behavior. Many a married couple has been burned by the fire of adultery. The flame of passion must burn only for one's spouse. Let's consider how our marriages can stay adultery-proof.
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6/30/2002
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Building Blocks of Marital Intimacy
Proverbs 5:15-23
Skip Heitzig
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Being intimate with someone involves more than merely a physical relationship. Intimacy is a sense of tender caring and affection in which one can be totally vulnerable without the fear of being hurt or misunderstood. Intimacy is essential if a marriage is going to survive, let alone thrive. How about your marriage? Do these following three elements that foster intimacy exist in your marriage? (Ask your spouse if they feel the same way!)
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7/21/2002
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The Child's Role In a Happy Home
Ephesians 6:1-2
Skip Heitzig
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A young couple, on the way to the hospital to have their second child, heard their six-year-old son give them parting wisdom, "Be sure and get a receipt, so if it's a girl, we can return her!" But we know children are a gift and a heritage from the Lord (see Psalm 127:3). We don't return them. Nor can we exchange our parents for other parents. The ones we have are the ones we must obey and honor. A child contributes to the health and happiness of the home by obedience.
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7/28/2002
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The World's Most Important Job
Ephesians 6:4
Skip Heitzig
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What job would be more important to the world than a parent? A surgeon, lawyer, president, pastor, or economist? No way! Think of a parent's influence: Every word and deed of a parent is a fiber woven into the character of a child that ultimately determines how that child fits into the fabric of society. In fact, a child identifies his parents with God, whether the adults want that role or not. Today, we begin with a few preliminary truths from a very primary text.
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8/4/2002
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How to Fashion a Young Life
Ephesians 6:4
Skip Heitzig
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The tender years of youth are malleable and impressionable like soft clay. Parents assume the role of the artist during those years, shaping and molding the young personalities (though each child has his/her own propensities). This task cannot be done haphazardly; it requires caring involvement. A second pass through Ephesians 6:4 reveals some helpful tools in shaping their lives.
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8/11/2002
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Teach Your Children Well!
Proverbs 1-23
Skip Heitzig
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The kind of curriculum that parents can provide at home for their children is more valuable than any college degree or trade. Parents are to do more than finance their children-they are to bring them up, which as we have already seen, includes involvement and training. A mother and father can provide an ambiance of learning that no other environment on earth can come close to. So what exactly are some of the things that parents should train their children in?
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8/18/2002
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The Single Parent—When Half Must Be the Whole
1 Kings 17:1-24; 2 Timothy 1:1-18
Skip Heitzig
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The family has changed on the American landscape. There's no denying it; there's no way of getting around it. Many factors have led to this change but now we must deal with it. One of the toughest roles in this new society is the role of the single parent. Pressures from life's demands, family members, friends, and even the church make this role more difficult. What do single parents need to know and what can the church do to help?
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8/25/2002
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Living Life Fully While Flying Solo
Matthew 19:1-30; 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
Skip Heitzig
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Is singleness a blessing, a gift, or a curse? Should the top priority of a single person be to find a mate? Why is it that singleness is deemed either as inappropriate and mediocre or seen by some as spiritually superior to marriage? As we consider these queries, the most important matter is that single life be full and enriching, a positive experience. Perhaps you've lost your mate or you are still waiting for "the one" or perhaps you're happy to remain single. Whichever category you fall into, let's consider singleness in light of Scripture.
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9/1/2002
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Finding the Love of Your Life
Genesis 24:1-67; 29:1-35
Skip Heitzig
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Concerning dating, someone quipped, "Some people are unmarried for the same reason that some drivers run out of gas. They pass too many filling stations looking for their favorite brand!" This little tongue-in-cheek quote unfortunately is often true. I'm all for getting the "right ingredients" in a person, but you'd better make sure you're using the right checklist. Let's consider two examples from Scripture to discover the principles for finding the love of your life.
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There are 14 additional messages in this series.