Marriage is TOUGH. So many people are on the edge of giving up, tune in this week to learn a different way and to find hope in the middle of your marriage. Not married? This is a great message to think through in anticipation of getting into a relationship. When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: My wife and I are madly in love with each other, but I have to tell you, not everything’s perfect. I’m reminded of this almost every single night. See we have this HUGE disagreement. She thinks the sheets should be tucked in at the bottom of the bed, and I think this is an abomination! Everyone knows that your leg is the temperature modulator of the body. I get in bed and I have to do the bicycle kick to get those wretched covers to unleash their grip – I’m pretty sure she’s started using velcro to keep them tucked.
Ha, now let me tell you something – I’m using the tuck vs. untuck as an example because honestly, it doesn’t expose too much of me to you. But I want to tell you something you all know
Little issues in a marriage get multiplied when big issues of broken communication, broken trust, and lack of care take front and center.
What I mean is this. Jen & I can joke and live with the tuck tension in our marriage without resolving it. But
If we allow too many issues, especially the big ones, to remain unresolved, eventually, even the little issues will be multiplied into big issues.
You’ve all seen this happen, right? -you used to love his sense of humor, now it drives you nuts he can’t take anything seriously -you’re so tired of everything she does – even the way she chews her food is pretentious -You’re tired of being his doormat, always in 2nd place to his friends, his truck, his hunting – you’ve picked up his socks for years and you’re done!
Here’s the question…
How do you divorce-proof your marriage?
ILLUSTRATION: Years ago I did a sermon for my youth group using this title. I was talking about how most of my youth group had grown up with pictures of marriage that were less than ideal. It seems strange to teach a bunch of unmarried teens ideas to help them have successful marriages, but I thought, “what if they could learn a better way, now?”
So, I started talking and teaching. I was talking about how hard divorce is for them. I talked about parents fighting over which house the kids were going to be at for Christmas. The pain of feeling like your parents divorced because of you, etc. In the middle of preaching, my heart broke, because this poor girl, that everyone else thought “had it all,” got up from her chair, tears streaming from her face, and she ran out of the room… I asked an adult lady from our church to go after her and talk. But I had to ask the question
Why is divorce so painful? When most people in our world see it as a quick fix for the long-term problem of marriage.
It’s because divorce is never as simplistic as people want to make it out to be-it is ALWAYS hurtful and harmful in some form-and most of the time, the children are the ones who bear the burden of those pains
ASIDE: I’m not saying that to make people feel guilty. Actually, I’ve not known a divorced person – even one who was divorced for a really good reason would have preferred it work out differently.
Let me point you to something Jesus said that hit me while I was studying for this sermon
SCRIPTURE: Jesus has just crossed the Jordan river and is healing lots of people there. Large crowds are following Him. Some Pharisees come out to test him. They ask is it lawful to divorce your wife for any and all reasons? Now, first of all, during Jesus’ time, only the husband could initiate the divorce – which put women at a HUGE disadvantage to be taken advantage of, because a divorced woman had very few options to financially care for herself. There were some in Jewish religious thought who were saying things like, “if your wife burns your toast – that’s reason to divorce her.” So, Jesus’ answer is not just about divorce, but it’s about caring for women… Listen to Jesus’ response:
Matthew 19:4-6 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Jesus tells them what we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks.
Couples are married when they become one flesh – and if God put someone together, who could separate that?
The Pharisees think they have him now, He’s fallen into their trap. They think they will get Him to say something against the law of Moses so they ask Him this follow up question:
Matthew 19:7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Moses gave men permission to divorce their wife and send her away if she became “displeasing” to her husband
I want to hone in on what Jesus says about this..
Matthew 19:88 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
Underline: permitted, divorce, because, hearts were hard
Did you see why Moses permitted divorce?
Because their hearts were hard…They cared more about their own happiness than the wholeness of their relationship.
Can I tell you something that should shock you?
Divorce was never the heart of God
Now, I’ll tell you, biblically, there are a few reasons for divorce…-adultery-abandonment – I would include abuse in this category
but in general – it wasn’t God’s heart…Here’s another shocker
God is not after your happiness, God is after your and your spouse’s Holiness and wholeness
-divorces have lots of causes, but most end with “not happy”
God is not after you having an easy, perfect, no problems marriage, God is after you becoming a Holy individual who is sanctified through marriage.
-until you unlock that in your heart, you will NEVER have a thriving marriage
As long as you hold on to some illusion that marriage is about you being happy instead of being Holy and helping your spouse be holy your heart will always be progressing toward hard-heartedness
So, look, here’s the question – How do you un-harden a hard heart?
I only know of one way
It REALLY comes down to a relationship with God – Listen
Ezekiel 36:25-27 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Un-hardening your heart only occurs by the power of the spirit of God
It is a complete refocusing of your life on God and His person
It is not about what you can do – it’s about what you focus on
Once you realize God wants to create holiness in you not happiness you can turn to Him and ask for a new spirit, to have him remove your heart and replace it with a heart of flesh-some of you – even when you were baptized wanted to hold on to pieces of yourself instead of remanding them to Christ-Today is the day to drop those presumptions and recommit to a lifelong relationship with your spouse – to do what’s hard to gain the reward
CLOSING: Early on in our marriage, I would focus so much on what Jenni wasn’t giving me… Honestly, I had set myself up in my heart to be a martyr. If I did something good for her, there was a part of me that was like, “there, I showed her how it should be done” if she did something that hurt me, I’d quietly take it and just shut down. Thank God I kept seeking Him and taking it to Him. It seemed the more I prayed to God about Jenni changing, the more God gently said to me, “Kent, let’s work on you…” I realized that my heart was hard in SO many ways. I realized I cared more about getting from Jenni than giving to Jenni. I realized that my job was to make sure my wife loved Jesus, not me..
It took me silently surrendering my heart to God and letting Him replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
Some of you today need to turn to Jesus and let Him replace your heart of stone. Aren’t you tired of life being about you and it NEVER working out? Turn to Jesus!