Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lord of the Rings>Built to Last

Here are some highlights from last Sunday's sermon, Built to Last.

It’s interesting to me that couples that are planning to get married will spend several thousand dollars on the wedding but then cringe when the minister tells them it will cost them $200.00 for pre-marital counseling sessions. They are willing to spend lots of money for the wedding but they can’t see spending a couple hundred dollars setting the proper foundation for the marriage.

Many marriages today are built on romance alone. That is a terrible mistake. Romance alone lays a terribly weak foundation for marriage. That may be a shocking statement for many people because the concept of romantic love is so celebrated in movies, songs, and cheap paperbacks.

This is not to suggest that romance itself or the desire for more romance in a marriage is necessarily bad. Good marriages work hard to preserve a sense of romance. (Read the Song of Solomon!) But the idea that a marriage can survive on romance alone, or that romantic feelings are the most important consideration when choosing a spouse, has ruined many marriages.

Let me remind you that it was God who created marriage. Genesis 2:18 says, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

Since marriage is God’s idea, it is imperative to remember that for a marriage to be built for a lifetime, it must be built on the foundation of God, and it must be build on the foundation of God’s design for marriage. In other words, God must be in the picture in more than just a passive way.

Adam and Eve were created by God for each other. Someone once said that when Adam saw Eve, he said, “Wo—man!” He wrote the first love song:

The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, for she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23)

But before Adam had this wonderful relationship with Eve, he already had an established relationship with God. Eve’s first relationship was also with God, for he had created her. The Bible says that after he created Eve, he brought her to Adam.

So, God first! Don’t even think about marriage until you have first built a relationship with God—a relationship that takes precedence over anything other relationship. Only God can meet your deepest needs. Only God can make you truly happy.

God was directly involved in bringing Adam and Eve together, but is he still that involved today in bringing couples together?

We find the answer in the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24.

Notice how when it was time for Isaac to be married, the decision about whom he should marry was not done by one person alone. It was not made in a vacuum.

Abraham was involved in giving specific instructions to his servant. The servant was involved in carry out his masters instructions, and in praying to God for direction. God was directly involved in leading the servant to the exact spot where he would find Rebekah, and in answering the servant’s prayer.

Now, I’m not saying that parents should still choose a spouse for their children without their children having a say in the decision. What I am saying is that more than one person should be involved in this big decision.

What we have today is young people making the biggest decision of their lives without asking for their parents’ advice, or without taking their point of view into consideration. Young people frequently see their parents as interrupters in the process of selecting a spouse. Parents are not interrupters. They are not bit-players in the entire scene. They play significant roles in this process.

Young people, ask for your parent’s advice. Act on their advice. Don’t make a decision based only on emotion.

The servant made a decision that was not only based on emotion. If he had, he would have given Rebekah the expensive jewelry right after he saw her, because she was a beautiful young girl. Instead his prayer indicated that he was taking more than just a romantic approach. He asked God to let him know that he was choosing the right girl by showing him a girl who was a hard-worker, who would do more than what was asked of her.

In other words, there are other factors beside how good-looking a young man, or how beautiful a young lady is. He might be a stud, but maybe he’s lazy. Maybe he mistreats people around him. She might be drop-dead gorgeous, but maybe she is self-centered. Maybe she is rude and unkind. Many young people are not able to see beyond the physical attributes, but parents can certainly give that all-important perspective.

Be determined that you’re going to build a marriage that lasts. Seek God first. Work on your relationship with God. That is more important than anything else in your life right now. Make him Lord of your life, and then he will be Lord of the Rings.

Secondly, don’t make this decision in a vacuum. Involve your parents, primarily, but also other godly people around you.

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