United Church of God

Maturing Into the Ultimate Marriage

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Maturing Into the Ultimate Marriage

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Maturing Into the Ultimate Marriage

MP4 Video - 1080p (2.33 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.41 GB)
MP3 Audio (58.78 MB)

The union of man and woman as husband and wife has its origins in times predating the earth. What we experience and learn in human marriage has implications for the future and eternity that we must consider. Is your marriage maturing into the "one-ness," joy, and ever deepening love God expected? In short, are you experiencing, and do you want to experience the “ultimate marriage?”


[Rick Shabi] Well, good afternoon, everyone. Good to see all of you here today. Let me commend Ms. Phillips for that fine special music. The words, that song is something we can all reflect on and pray that we become more like God and people see in us His Holy Spirit as we live our lives. If you don't know, you probably have picked up on the fact that this is an ABC day. I didn't know that until I read the announcements last night, but I want to commend all of our ABC students for everything that they have done. Very fine job from all of you, so I appreciate that very much, and glad to have you all here with us today. It's been a few weeks since we've been here.

We have been doing some traveling to other congregations. It's always good to be able to go out and see God's people, and I often say that's one of the highlights, to be able to go out and meet God's people. They're wonderful people, as you know, when you go to the feast and meet other people as well all over the world. Last week we had the...I call it the Dallas Conference, but it's really the South Central Regional Pastors Conference. We had a very good conference, very fine ministers down in that area, and as you know, as we go around to the conferences, we are talking about speaking the same thing so that we're all on the same page. It is the same Bible that we teach all over the world. It's the same God we worship all over the world, and the same energy for God's way that we need to be developing all over the world, especially as we see the things going on in our lives and in the world around us. Let me say hi to our visitors, those listening in on the web as well.

Today I want to talk about, oh, I think in a general term, relationships. But I want to start with God the Father and Jesus Christ. You know, as we think about the two of them, the two God beings, they have existed for eternity. We have no concept of what that means. It's hard to even imagine that they have always been and that they always will be. But we do know that they're in complete and perfect harmony and unity. They do everything in concert. They work so very well with each other. And that has existed for millions, billions, and trillions of years. I have no idea if there's ever a conflict between them. I don't think so. I think they're in perfect alignment. But we don't know what went on before, and do they discuss things? When they planned the earth...we can ask questions that we'll never have the answers to, you know, until Jesus Christ returns. As they planned and as they worked and as they thought about all the things that we get glimpses of in the Bible, angels being created, the world being created, the earth being created. All the time and all the effort and all the creativity that had to go into planning the earth. The time of Satan and the archangels being created. Satan's disappointing performance with God.

All the things that they learned over the years because God never stops learning. Jesus Christ never stops learning, just like you and I never stop learning. And they know what is going on, and they can predict so perfectly what's going on in this world and what the reactions of people will be because they study and they know and they see what's going on. When you look at Satan, for instance, you know, they know. They know what he did. They watched what he was doing. And God tells us we should be watching, that we're aware of his tactics. When we see different spirits, we recognize them as God puts His Spirit in us. And as we look at the world around us and we can see things that just aren't the same as the Bible, we can tell when there's just not the unity that God the Father and Jesus Christ have and that He wants us to have because He tells us, I want you to become one with each other just like God the Father and Jesus Christ are one.

That's an amazing thing when you stop and think about it. His people, those who He calls, become one just like God the Father and Jesus Christ are, in perfect harmony, learning how to reconcile differences as they come about, putting things behind us, changing our behavior as we become aware of how our behavior, our responses, our actions differ from what the way of the Bible and what the way of God would be, all the while recognizing that He is preparing us for eternity with Him and Jesus Christ and that that is what we are to be developing in this life. So that when that time comes, when Jesus Christ returns and the saints are resurrected, He absolutely trusts that we will do everything the way He wants it done. He knows what's in our hearts, and He absolutely knows that we will not depart from it. That's the trust that God the Father and Jesus Christ have with each other.

I don't know what discussion went on, but when Jesus Christ, when they were creating the earth and mankind, and all that mankind was going to do and what God was going to work with Him through the course of time, Jesus Christ said, "I will. I will go down. I will be born as flesh. I will suffer. I will die. I will live as a human so that they have the opportunity to have sins forgiven and have eternal life." They were in perfect accord on that. And Jesus Christ was born as a flesh-and-blood human being, and He so trusted God that He'll resurrect me. Not a doubt in His mind. God knew that Jesus Christ would absolutely perform the way He should and complete the commission that He was sent to, not a doubt in His mind. They were so in tune with each other and absolutely sure the plan would be completed. And that's what He's looking to from you and me, absolute sure, surely, that we are in concert, in line, in perfect harmony with Him.

We develop that over time. We learn. God gives us our lifetimes from the time He calls us and the time we repent and yield to Him and are baptized and when He sees the genuine repentance and desire to live His way of life and turn from our old way, He gives us His Holy Spirit so that we have that time to develop that. It's a limited time, a limited time in our life compared to the eternity that will be if we follow what He has to say, give our hearts to Him, learn to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul, the way that they love us and are willing to do whatever it takes, not willing that any of us should perish, but all would have eternal life. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price so that that could happen because He and God the Father loved us that much and they expect us to love them that much and to grow and to mature in that love and that way of life. More and more as time goes on. Always learning, always becoming more like them, always with a vision of what it is that God would have us do and who He would have us become.

You know, He never called...as I find myself, I think, often saying, He never called us to be status quo. We're always growing and we're always maturing, just as we do in physical life. Start off as infants, we become children, we become teenagers, we become young adults, we become older adults, and all through that process, there is a maturity that occurs. And as that maturity occurs physically, as we're called by God, that physical or that spiritual maturity occurs as well. God says that all over the Bible, really, but in Hebrews 5 and 6, He says, "We shouldn't be as little children anymore." We grow. We become stronger and stronger, more and more like Him, so that by the time we die, God knows. He knows who we are when we die. And He looks at us and says, I know. I know they will never depart from me. My way is in their hearts. I have seen them choose. I have seen them make decisions. I have seen them deny self and choose me, consciously choose me. And I've watched them grow. And as His Holy Spirit is in us, that we become. more and more like Him.

And so He gives us that opportunity to choose unity, to choose submission to Him. Just like...now, we all have our roles in life. Whatever God would have us do, just like God the Father has His role and Jesus Christ has His role. We know that God the Father is the one who calls. He gives the Holy Spirit. We know that the world was created through Jesus Christ. We know when Jesus Christ returns, it'll be God the Father who says, "It's time. Go." We know that Jesus Christ is in complete submission and unity with God. He tells us in John 5 and John 12, "Everything that the Father tells me, I speak. The works that I do, they're not my works. They're the works of the Father." It's the same goal that you and I have. How do we completely yield to God more and more in our life and let His words, His ways live in us, be who we are, that we are yielding to Him? Because in Him and when we yield to God, that's where joy is, that's where peace is, that's where agape love is, that's where all those fruits of the Spirit are that make life worth living. Let's show us that our lives are much richer now than they ever could have been if we were living in the world.

And as we look at creation, as we just even think a little bit about what God the Father and Jesus Christ, all the eternity that He has, so much of which we absolutely don't know and don't have any idea of, we know that they're one. And when He created mankind on earth, as far as we know from the Bible, it's the first time that He created beings that were able to marry and to reproduce. Before that, when you think about the angels, when you think about the 24 elders, when you think about the archangels and everything, it was all single beings. All single beings. But the first time that He created beings that would marry and have male and female would be when He created man. And you and I live in that time. You and I have the opportunity to marry and experience things that the other beings that have been created through eternity haven't had the opportunity to do. And there's a reason that God has done that. He is looking for something, and it's a tremendous growing opportunity to be male and female, to come together, to marry, and to learn the things that God would have us learn. God the Father and Jesus Christ are absolutely perfectly united and in harmony with a plan in mind, and they both complete their roles perfectly. They are united in that purpose.

We turn back to Genesis, Genesis 1. We see as God begins to, or as He creates the earth or recreates the earth so that it is fit for physical life on it, providing everything that mankind could possibly need in this lifetime.

Genesis 1:26-28 He says, "Let us make man in our image." Elohim, two beings, let us make them in our image. Two beings, and on earth there will be two, separate, but become one flesh, humans, but male and female. "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created Him." Keeps repeating it. They're going to be like me. Their purpose will be to become like me. We're creating them in our image. "And God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’" The first beings that had that opportunity to do that.

And as God worked with them, and as He created man, and as He worked with Adam, you notice in Genesis 2:15-16, I won't read it there, He tells Adam, before Eve is on the picture, Adam, here's the tree of the knowledge. Every tree of the garden you can freely eat. But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, don't eat that. Because when you eat of that tree, you will surely die. And so what God was doing as He told Adam that, instructed Him that, is you're going to be the one who is the spiritual head of a family, the family that is going to be on Earth. It's your responsibility. You lead your family with the things that I tell you. Don't eat of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And we know the story as Eve was created and Satan was able to convince her somehow with his cunning words and deceptive ways to eat that tree or eat of that tree.

When she brought it to Adam, who wasn't deceived, we're told in 1 Timothy, what did he choose to do? He didn't choose to obey God and say, "No, I won't eat of that tree. God told me not to eat of that tree. Eve, you shouldn't have." No, he joined her. He joined her and ate it. And we learn a lesson. It is a responsibility of man to be the spiritual head of the house just like God the Father is the Father. He teaches us. He trains us. He speaks the word, Jesus Christ says it, follows through with it. He says create, Jesus Christ creates. He says go to Earth, it's the time for the second coming, Jesus Christ returns. In Genesis 2:18, He creates woman, takes woman from man.

Genesis 2:18 And it says here, "The Lord God said, 'It's not good that man should be alone. I didn't create him to be a single being. I created them so that they would work together, so that they would have this opportunity to become one with one another like God the Father and Jesus Christ are.'" Later in that chapter, He says, "They will become one flesh." One flesh. A tremendous opportunity to grow in that area. "It's not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him."

The Old King James says, "A help meet for him." He's the head. He's responsible for getting things done, leading the family, being the spiritual head, but he needs a helper. He needs someone by his side to help do those things. He's going to have his responsibilities, and his helper, his wife, is going to have her responsibilities as well.

Just like God the Father and Jesus Christ get everything done, we know and we see from the Bible what God the Father does and what Jesus Christ does, we see that husband and wife would be a complete unit. Husband and wife working in concert, especially and with God's Holy Spirit to combat the things that come in life would be united in one with the same purpose, God providing everything that they need and them working together to accomplish everything that the family needs to do. It's a beautiful picture when you think about what God's plan is. It's a beautiful picture when you look at what is going on and what His plan is that we become like Him.

Now, I could take this further, and I'm not going to take it into we all become one with each other, right? God is a God of relationships, and what we learn in marriage and we learn in church working with each other, we learn from God and Jesus Christ, the perfect relationships that are there. But in marriage, it's a unique situation because we are together as one. There are going to be conflicts. There are going to be discussions that happen. There is going to have to be the planning. But as love and marriage progress and mature, we should be maturing into a marriage that is the picture of what God would have marriage be. And that is a husband and wife working together in harmony with children, teaching their children the way of God, becoming one, each submitting to each other, working with one another to get the job done and to have that perfect harmony that God wants us to have. If we did that, how beautiful life would be. But we know that life isn't that easy.

Today, probably more than any other time in human history, marriage is under attack. Family is under attack. Everything is under attack. Satan, who has the sway, the world is under his sway. 1 Corinthians 4:4 says, "He is the god of this age." He doesn't want family. He doesn't want children raised the way God would have them raised. He wants anything but. Because what God has created us for is to become who He wants to be, part of His family, what He has in mind for you and me, what we are learning as we go through life today. And so we think about those things and we understand when we think about it, what is God doing and our responsibilities when we're in the church? When God called and we responded and we repented and He put His Holy Spirit in us and we said, we'll go, we'll follow you wherever you want us to go. We will do whatever you want us to do. We will become like you. We will deny self. We will put ourselves aside. We will work with one another. We will become one and pray that we become one and that God will give us the Spirit and strength to say no to self, to overcome the world and to always choose or to learn how to choose the things that He wants us to do. When we were in...you're still there in Genesis 2:18. And I'm going to turn back there because I want to look at verse 25 in that chapter as well. In 25, or 24, I guess.

Genesis 2:24, it says, "Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

They'll become one. Now, that word joined in the New King James is really cling or cleave. I guess it's cleave in the Old King James. It literally means to stick like glue to each other, totally joined, become one. The two become one. A beautiful picture. In Deuteronomy 30...in Deuteronomy 30:20, we see the same word used again when it's speaking of us with God. Let's begin in verse 19, a very common verse that we...probably a memory verse for all of us.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life. Choose life that both you and your descendants may live."

Choose, choose, choose. There's one way that is very easy to choose, the way of the world. There are choices we make where we stop and think, no, that's not the way of God. That's what I would naturally do. Choose God's way. So in verse 20, He says, do these things, choose life, make the choices that you make, and with His Holy Spirit we can make those choices.

Genesis 30:20 That you may love the Lord your God, "That you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him." That you may become one with Him, that you can stick like glue to Him. the same way that you stick like glue to your spouse. You become one. You have a common purpose, a common goal, a common direction you're going. And you work with one another in the ways that your family does in order to accomplish what God has in mind for us. "That you may cling to Him for He is your life and the length of your days." He is your life and the length of your days. He is eternity. He is our future. Apart from Him, there is no future in this earth. There is no future in this world. We know that. And if we had any doubt ever, as we watch things go around in the world around us today, we see, where the world is concerned with their knowledge, with their wisdom, it is hopeless. It is hopeless. With God, there is hope. With God, there is hope, and we can live His way of life today and enjoy all the good things that He wants us to, even in spite of the trials that we may go through.

And so God wants us to have these things. And when we learn, when man and wife are in concert, when they're growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, when they become one, any of us would say there's joy in life. Can't even imagine. Can't even imagine life without my spouse. Can't even imagine what life would be without her. Can't imagine life without that love, without that purpose, without that direction. We can say that individually too, right? Because before we came in the church, life was whatever it was. But there was no purpose. There wasn't the mission. There wasn't the commission that God gave us. There wasn't the direction and the energy to live and become something different than we need to be. The goals that God sets, sets us apart from everyone else. It gives us the energy, it gives us the zeal to go on because we know that His way is right and it's the only way to salvation.

Marriage brings that supreme joy, especially when you're in the church and when both have God's Holy Spirit. Let me just read the first line from...excuse me, from our wedding ceremony. It says, "Surely there can be no greater human joy than to have a happy marriage filled with giving and sharing. There is no deeper relationship among human beings than that achieved by a husband and wife in marriage." And that's true. Marriage, the union of two being one, is a unique experience as far as we know from the Bible in the history of the universe. God gave us that gift. God gave us that opportunity. Let's look at a few verses in Proverbs. Proverbs 18.

Proverbs 18:22. God inspired Solomon to write, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing." It's true. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." It is a blessing. One chapter over.

Peovweba 19:14 "Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers but a prudent wife is from the Eternal."

A gift. A gift, something precious. God gave woman to man to be a help meet, to help his life be complete, to help his life be more meaningful, happy, joyous in every way imaginable.

Proverbs 12:4 "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband." Isn't that true? Husbands have responsibilities, men have responsibilities. A wife has a responsibility too. An excellent wife, one who understands the role as God gives it, one who is fulfilling that role as God directed. "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who calls you shame is like rottenness in his bones."

Ah, if we would just fulfill what God has called us to fulfill, if we would just be the people God wanted us to be. If men would look into the Bible and not allow the world to define masculinity, but if we would redefine masculinity in the way God would have with the way God created us to be. If women would look at what God had designed for them instead of looking at the world around and having them influence and you're not fulfilled if you do this and you're not fulfilled if you don't do that. If we would just do what God said, life would be so much different, so much happier. But that's not the world we live in, but it is important that we know it, that we recognize it, that we understand God's way, and see what He had in mind for us as we are married or even not married. I don't know that we'll have time today to talk about, you know, it's not for everyone to be married, but we still have to learn the oneness and understand what God's plan was, well, is.

Let's go back to Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5, as I turn there, you probably knew I was going to turn there because it talks about marriage. It talks about husband and wife. But as we read through these verses in Ephesians 5, I want to remind us, and I want us to see how many times it says to do these things just as God does, just as Jesus does. They are our examples. They are who we emulate. The Bible is full of the instructions from them, and as we live with one another and understand what it is that God is working out with us in marriage is supremely happy, joyous, blessing in a physical sense, but there is the spiritual element and the things we learn as well.

Let's begin with verse 22.

Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, submit to your own husbands."

I know that the word submit is a dirty word in the world today. I remember when I would do marriage counseling, I would say, you know, what does the wife think about that word? What does the husband...what is your understanding of the word submit? Because in the world, it doesn't have a good connotation. But with Bible, it's a beautiful connotation. "Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord." Would any of us say we don't want to submit to God? Well, then there's no reason for us being here. If we're not willing to submit to God on what He says, then why are we here? We do submit to God. And in the marriage relationship, we submit. Doesn't mean obey. Doesn't mean the husband could just lord it over and demand this and demand that and be the dictator.

That isn't how Jesus Christ works with us. If Jesus Christ worked with us that way, we may not have stuck around. We may have said too hard. He's patient. He's loving. He's kind. He does what's there. He understands who we are. So He works with us so that we can understand, so that we can achieve, so that we do want His way more. You know, 1 Peter 3:7, you know, it says, "Husbands, dwell with your wives with understanding." Dwell with your wives with understanding. Appreciate them," He says, "as a fine vessel, something precious in your life, an excellent, excellent crown on your head." And when you treat them that way, as Jesus Christ looks at us, what does He do? He loves us. He's willing to do whatever it takes for us to have eternal life. And in our marriages, we work the same way. "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord." That puts a responsibility on the husbands too, right? You need to be behaving. You need to be loving, agape love, like Jesus Christ. Using the Holy Spirit to do those things.

"Submit to your own husbands as to the Lord," for the husband is head of the wife. We just read that in Genesis 2:15. Adam, you're the one. You're the one. You're the spiritual head of the house. You make things happen. If you read through Genesis 1 and 2, you see the aspects of masculinity. You're the one who provides. You make sure that there's security. You make sure there's protection. You make sure your family has everything it needs physically and spiritually. Wife, you work with him. You help him. When the children are born, you raise them in the same way that you have agreed to raise them according to God's way. "The husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church." There's no one here that wouldn't acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the head of the church. We follow Him. We seek His way. We ask for His guidance. We ask for His direction. And when He gives that, if it's even contrary to what we want to do, we do it His way.

It requires husband to be close to God, living by the Holy Spirit, knowing the Bible, understanding truth, becoming like Jesus Christ, studying Him, becoming a disciple. How did He act? How did He do these things? Growing in that way. So more each year we become like Him.

Ephesians 5:23-24 "The husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church. And He is the Savior of the body." Willing to die, willing to die that we could live. It's a job responsibility or a responsibility for us. Therefore, "Just as the church is subject to Christ..." which we are. "Just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."

Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love, love your wives."

Doesn't mean erotic love in that verse. That is agape, that word love there. In fact, everywhere you see love in Ephesians 5 in these verses we're reading, it's agape love. It's not the brotherhood love. It's not the erotic love. It's brother. Choose to do things. Make the choices to do what's best for the other person.

"Husbands, agape your wives just as Christ also agape to the church and gave Himself for her." She's important. Your job is to work with her and each other to be in the kingdom of God. Maybe I should have turned to 1 Peter 3:7. Mark it down in your notes. But it says there that we are heirs together, heirs together, to the kingdom of God. Husband and wife, heirs together.

Ephesians 5:25-27 "Husbands, agape your wives, just as Christ also agape the church, and gave himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word. Let her see the fruits and the goodness of living God's way of life." Let her see from the Bible it coming to life in that way that he might present her as the family lives a spiritual life, a physical life too, doing all those things but always keeping the spiritual in mind. "That he might present her to himself a glorious church." Okay, talking about Jesus Christ here, "not having a spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."

As we go through life, all those spots and wrinkles disappearing, more and more one with each other, more and more one with God the Father and Jesus Christ. And more and more one with each other because the things we learn in marriage apply to all our relationships. We can work out those differences. Then there are certainly differences among us. But God does expect us to be learning how to reconcile, get on the same page, do the same thing, and have the same purpose of following Him and doing what He would have us do.

Ephesians 5:28-29 So, "Husbands ought to agape their own wives as their own bodies. He who agapes his wife loves himself." Makes sense. She's there with him. She's one with him. He wants what's best for her. "No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church."

Our example, His relationship with us as He works with us and grows us.

Ephesians 5:30-33 "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, cling, stick like glue to his wife and the two shall become one flesh." He says, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so agape his own wife."

Work with her, be the blessing to her that she needs to be. Have the family working, not always your way, but working together for the plan, whatever the plan is in your family, which should include working with God, using His Holy Spirit, growing in grace and knowledge, working toward the kingdom and having that vision.

Ephesians 5:33 "Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

Same word there. You know, when we fear God and we reverence Him, not that husbands should be reverenced as God, but it's that respect. I see what he's doing. I see what he's working. He is a man of God. He is following God's way. I respect that and I trust as he grows and sees the Words of God, he's living by that way. That's how he's leading the family. That's where he's leading us. And I see that and so because he's doing the things and fulfilling the role that he has been given, I respect him.

There's a lot in those verses if we tear them apart. A lot of things in there that we learn, not just wives, not just husbands, but all those things we read, understanding and working with each other, to have the family become what the family wants us to become, or God wants us to become. I mean, even wives encouraging husbands. If there is something that isn't right, going to him and saying and pointing out in the Bible. Let the Bible be the guide, encourage, exhort. And all the things that we need to do. If God's Holy Spirit is there in both, the marriage will grow into an ultimately good physical marriage, unlike anything that people without God's Holy Spirit could experience.

Let's go back to another chapter, you probably know I'm going to turn to in Proverbs 31. We know or we could and probably should be speaking more about the role of God as the role of man, masculinity, if you will, Christian masculinity, what it is in the Bible, and femininity, and we'll plan to do that somewhere down the road. But Proverbs 31 is a good place to look. Now, I often, when I was doing marriage counseling, would go to the Proverbs 31 and I would say, this is much about the husband as it is the wife. Because a Proverbs 31 wife doesn't really occur without a Proverbs 31 husband. There is that unity that is there. There is that oneness that's there. There's that trust in each other that develops over time as you work with one another, understand each other, and grow together as one. Let's look at verse 10.

Proverbs 31:10 "Who can find a virtuous wife?"

Your margin may say like mine, really a better translation, who can find a wife of valor? One who follows God, one who is that excellent crown that God expects of her, just like He has expectations of man. "Who can find a virtuous wife? Her worth is far above rubies." She is a gift. She is a blessing. You be thankful for her, and you work. You work with her, and make her life good, and you direct your family, because you love God, toward Him. The heart of her husband safely trusts her. That takes time. Does God the Father safely trust Jesus Christ? Yes, He does. He gave Him all authority over heaven and earth. It's yours. I safely trust that you will never depart from what it is that we have planned together. The heart of Jesus Christ safely trusts in God the Father. Yes, I will be a human. Yes, I will die. I trust you will resurrect me and you will stick with the plan.

Proverbs 31:11 "The heart of her husband safely trusts her and she safely trusts him."

They have worked together. They've seen each other's skills, talents. They might have different ones, but they have learned to work together to become one, just like the church becomes one because God provides everything we need within the church to do the job that He wants us to do. Ephesians 4:16, "What every joint supplies." Everything that marriage needs, you can develop and God will give you when you're looking to Him. "The heart of her husband safely trusts her, so he will have no lack of gain," because God blesses those things. When they work together, good things happen. When you do God's way and live God's way, blessings do result.

Proverbs 31:12 "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."

Ah, she's learned to respect him. She's learned to do what Ephesians 5:33 says. I see what my husband's doing. I may have to talk to him sometimes and work things out. We may have to put the arguments...We have to come together as one again. But we do because we seek God's will and we know what our job is. "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." And then she's industrious. He's out in the gates of the city, we find. He's doing the things that need to be done for the family. And because he's spiritually grown and is seen and God uses him in that way. But she's diligent too.

Proverbs 31:13 "She seeks wool and flax and willingly works with her hands."

She's hardworking. She's industrious. She sees a need in the home. She sees a need with the servants and does it. Her husband safely trusts her. What she does is very good. He sees what she's doing.

Proverbs 31:14 "She's like the merchant ships. She brings her food from afar."

What do I need to do to make sure my family and the people I work with have what they need in however they need it?

Proverbs 31:15 "She rises while it's at night and provides food for her household and a portion for her maidservants."

Kind, attentive to what people need, willing to provide those things.

Proverbs 31:16 "She considers a field and buys it."

Ah, she's learned. She's learned some business over the years. Her husband, maybe they've worked together on things, and he thinks, she gets it. I safely trust her. She can go out and do this. The family needs it. I've got other things to do. "She considers a field and buys it. From her profits, she plants a vineyard." Has some skills, is allowed to grow. She's not pigeonholed into one thing. This is the only place you are in the kitchen or doing that or whatever. Both parties in a good marriage grow and develop over time. After time, they are better people than they were individually. That's just the way marriage works when we are working together and following what God wants.

Proverbs 31:17 "She girds herself with strength. She strengthens her arm." She's not afraid to work. Get the job done. He's got what he's doing and he's following what he needs to be doing. This is what the household needs. I will help him in this way. "She sees that her merchandise is good." It isn't just poor quality. Very aware.

Proverbs 31:18-19 "Her lamp doesn't go out by night." Industrious. "She stretches out her hand to the distaff. Her hand holds a spindle, and she's kind and generous and looking out for others."

Just like it says in 1 John 2, "What do they need? God has blessed us, but what do others need?"

Proverbs 31:20 "She extends her hand to the poor. She reaches out her hands to the needy."

She helps in that end. Sometimes we as husbands, we can be just kind of completely naive and walk right by and think, oh, I never even thought of doing that kind thing for that person. But our wives are there, and they see that, and they can pick that up. This person needs that. We could provide that. They need a card. They need a phone call. They need us praying for them. They need help in some way. Work together on that because that's the agape that we learn as we work with each other. One may overlook it but the other sees it. And then do it, put it into your life. We'll go down here a little bit longer in verse 23.

Proverbs 31:23 "Her husband is known in the gates. He's well-respected."

Remember, a wife is a blessing. When they see her and they see him, they think, here's a family. Here's a couple that is really getting along well. They are producing what God wants. She is an example of what a wife should be. He is an example of a husband that God wants them to be. "Her husband is known in the gates." Their reputation is there. They're solid. "When he sits among the elders of the land, he's well-respected," because as the marriage grows and they work and grow togethe that becomes evident.

Proverbs 31:26 "She opens her mouth with wisdom."

She knows the Bible too. She's just not totally relying on the husband. She also is studying God's Word. She also sees and is growing the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. She also is applying into her life the things that has to happen in her life because we all come with different weaknesses and different strengths. She is also looking to become like Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 31:27-28 "She watches over the ways of her household. She doesn't eat the bread of idleness. And her husband and her children see that. Her children rise up and call her blessed."

Look how mom does. She provides everything we need. She's always there. She's always on top of things. She keeps the household running. Between mom and dad, we have had a wonderful, wonderful life with everything provided. "Her husband also, he praises her." Thank you for what you've done. Thank you for being the wife that God asked you to be. Thank you for being the wife that has helped in so many ways.

Proverbs 31:29 "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Give her the fruit."

Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears God shall be praised."

Men, that goes for us too. Men who fear God will lead their families in the way that God wants them to. They will become the husbands as Jesus Christ. guides the church. They will learn, they will grow. They will grow together and they will become one in everything. "Give her the works of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates." That woman can't exist unless there's a Proverbs 31 husband who's working with her and dealing with her and they become one. They will grow physically and they will grow spiritually creating the environment where they both can become better, better physically, develop, grow, become better people as a result, and grow spiritually and stronger spiritually as they follow God's ways. The environment has to be there.

We as Christians, we can't exist without the love and commitment of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit in us. We can never become what God wants us to be if His Holy Spirit isn't there, and if Jesus Christ hadn't been willing to do for us what He's done. You know, as you look at this and we put these words together, you have to be able to see how beautiful this is, the beautiful picture of what God wants marriage to become like and what it should do for each one of us. When I look at Proverbs 31, I see everyone in this room, everyone who ever listens to this, this is our job description. Every one of us. Every one of us are destined, if we follow God, to become brides of Christ. He will be the head. He will be the husband. He will be the one directing and providing the spiritual guidance. And our job as we live today is to become like this. So when Christ returns and we are resurrected, we will become like what is described here in Proverbs 31.

How important is it for us to live this way, understand this way, understand the roles that God has given us so that when He comes and He returns, and we've had our lives to do this, we are like Him? It won't be training time when Jesus Christ says, hey, let's go back to Proverbs 31. You are my help meet. You are here to help me. because God gives that analogy. You're the bride of Christ, that's what we're destined to be. So we better, men, know what's in here and help our wives and be the people that we need to be so that they can develop so that we understand this as well because God is looking to us. Training time is now. Understanding the will of God now. That is what we are here to do so that when He returns, we're ready, we're ready to do what God wants us to do. We're ready to fulfill that role. Not training time when He returns. Training time is now. Training time is now.

I think, you know, if we look at this, and I'm not going to spend too much time on this, when you see the picture of marriage and what God had planned in it, we can see why God hates divorce. He hates divorce. Let's do look at Malachi 2. Malachi 2. Because divorce among people who are in the church who have God's Holy Spirit, I think is almost like a failure to recognize God's plan. Something isn't working right. I will tell you something that I've said here before and many times...We had a pastor years ago who made the comment that in the church, if there's continuing existing problems with a couple that both are baptized, both have God's Holy Spirit, then one of them is not following the Holy Spirit because God's Spirit brings unity. God's Spirit brings reconciliation. People work together. Our job is to forgive, well, acknowledge sins, forgive, reconcile, become one again in marriage as part of the body. There's something not right when marriages can't reconcile.

Someone is not paying attention to what their calling is and using God's Holy Spirit. I heard it said even last week when we were discussing this a little bit at the Dallas conference, and someone made the comment...I thought it was a very good comment. In the church, there is no such thing as husband and wife irreconcilable differences. No such thing. If both are in the church, both have God's Holy Spirit, irreconcilable differences isn't a reason, isn't a reason for someone to separate. It's a reason to closely examine yourself, see who you are, where you are, what you're doing, and remember what God's purpose for us is. And in marriage, we learn a lot about ourselves. We learn a lot about each other. We learn a lot about what life with God will be like. So here I am. Let me see. Malachi 2.

Malachi 2:13-14 "God says, 'And this is the second thing you do. You cover the altar of the Eternal with tears, with weeping and crying so He doesn't regard the offering anymore nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.' And you say, 'Well, why? Why isn't He listening?' 'Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth with whom you have dwelt treacherously. Yet she is your companion.'"

She's your wife by covenant. You made a commitment to her. Marriage is a lifelong commitment between two people when you stand before God and say, I will be there until death do us part. With baptism, it's an eternal commitment. Eternal commitment, God, I will be with you forever. Wherever you go, wherever you lead, whatever I have to go through, I will never leave you. It's the same thing, but with your spouse.

Malachi 2:15 "She is your companion and your wife by covenant. Didn't He make them one?" He bound them together. You stood before God and you said those words. "Having a remnant of the Spirit. Now, why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed. Take heed to your spirit."

What are you thinking? Remember your calling. Remember what you're doing in this life. And don't take it lightly. Don't take it lightly. Matthew 19. I'll just hit on a couple things here about divorce. Jesus Christ talks about it a little bit. We know God hates divorce because marriage is such a blessing. And if we don't reconcile, there's a problem.

Matthew 19:7 "They said to him, 'Why did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away?'" Notice what Christ said. "Moses did because of the hardness of your hearts."

You wouldn't listen. You set your mind, you closed your mind to reconciliation. You said it won't work, I don't want to do this anymore. I give up. Is that the attitude that God would have us be that He'd say, you know what, they're fit for my kingdom? They ran across something and they don't want to try anymore. They don't want to look at things anymore. They just want to give up. Is that who God is going to resurrect and have in the first resurrection of being His kingdom? Remember who we are. Remember what it is that God is working with us with.

Matthew 19:7-9 "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, 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. And whoever marries her, who is divorced, commits adultery."

Adultery is a violation of the covenant. That is grounds for divorce. You have broken your commitment. When you do that, what does God think? Will you ever break your commitment to Him? There's a commitment and a covenant in marriage that God takes very seriously, and we need to as well. Just like our commitment to God when we're baptized. In 1 Corinthians 7, you know, Paul addresses this well. 1 Corinthians 7 speaks of marriage, but he addresses one in the situation where your spouse does leave God and she or he no longer wants to follow God's way. We can't control everything that people say. Let's look at verses 12-15.

1 Corinthians 7:12 "When that occurs," Paul says, verse 12, "but to the rest, I, not the Lord, say if any brother has a wife who doesn't believe and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her."

You keep doing what you were called to do. You keep being the husband that God called you to be. You keep fulfilling that role the way He wanted it to be. And if she wants to be there, who knows? Who knows if one day she will realize, look what he's done. Look how he's been spending. Look at our house. It's time to go back.

1 Corinthians 7:13-15 "Don't let him divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who doesn't believe, if he's willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. You are keeping up your end of the bargain. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace."

If they say, don't want it, don't want to deal with this, don't want this way of life, I'm out of here, that's their choice. God's way is very clear. Sometimes we stray from it a little bit. We may let some of the ways of the world creep into things, but that should not be. Marriage is a serious business for God. We take it seriously. We have a number of young people with us. When you're choosing a mate, choose. See what they are. Try to understand. Are they spiritually in tune with God? Do they want what you want? Is it the same way? Spend some time exploring those things together and working with one another because you want to be in a marriage where both follow God, and you can see that commitment to them. That's the key to a successful marriage.

Well, there's other things I could say. It's going to have to wait for another time, but let's conclude in Revelation. Revelation 19. Through our lives, whether we've been married, newly married, 10 years, 50 years, 60 years, whatever it is, we mature in marriage. We should become more and more at one with one another, more and more at one with God. And we see the peace and we see the beauty when that happens. Always remember in marriage, God created mankind, male and female. He gave us this opportunity, unique as far as we know in the history of the universe to do this because He and God the Father, Jesus Christ and God the Father, perfectly at one. Our job is to become at one with each other, husband and wife, and with each other in a wider range among everyone in the church. I dare say all of us would agree we have some ways to go in that, but God will bring us there. We will get to the point where He wants us to be if we follow Him. Ultimately, our marriage is with God. And that's what we're in training now.

Revelation 19:7 Says, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."

His wife, that's you and me, has made herself ready in this life. We get it. We've learned it. We've developed it. God looks at us and says, I know that I can safely trust them. They will never depart. They have changed. They have overcome. They have used the Holy Spirit. His way becomes us. His truth becomes us.

Revelation 19:8-9 "His wife has made herself ready, and to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saint. Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." We have time. We have focus. We need focus. We need the energy. We need the commitment. God gives it. Let's be ready and use the time we have now to be ready for when Jesus Christ returns.