At the end of our existence, after we account for every word, action, and deed, when justice is served, God will simply give us a greater measure of what we desired on earth. If we bowed the knee to Christ, God will say, “Heaven awaits you”. Conversely, to those who did the pushback and walked away from Christianity, God will say, “I loved you, I sought you, I bought you. You lived apart from me in life therefore you will have a greater measure of this in eternity”. Where we spend life ever after is predicated upon one single instantaneous decision. The Bible says after judgment, Jesus will separate everyone into one of two camps. Matthew 25:32 states, “All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them from one another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats”. After this postmortem date with ultimate fate, we will face either eternal bliss or eternal punishment in hell.
What happens, though, when we take the fly and swim off thinking everything is great because we got what we wanted? We will not get far, before suddenly we feel the pull, the sting, the barb. Then we start thrashing and splashing from collateral damage: relationships, careers, guilt, pain, and alienation. The enemy is not a catch and release fisherman. No, he has an unbelievable trophy room! He has scores of believers mounted to the wall. He brags, “I caught that girl by greed. See that guy? I caught him with lust. It was so simple! Ahh…see those students over there? I got them with rebellion.” Although a reality, is this the end of the road?
Who are you listening to? Are you listening to a group of misinformed armchair experts with questionable motives or Daniel? Negative people are myopic. They are so self-focused that they lose sight of the phenomenal plan God has for their lives. Positive people, like Daniel, are difference-makers because of their rock-solid relationship with God. They are open to love and embrace others. Are you like Daniel? In the midst of this pagan culture are you praying, “Lord, thank you for my position and purpose”? Because when we have friends in our lives willing to speak the truth to us in love, we will make the right call—even in the midst of this crazy-crazy world.
Again, if you’re a single Christian male attracted to the opposite sex it is God’s will for you to marry. What?! No, I didn’t make this up, it’s from Scripture. I Corinthians 7:9 states, “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than burn with passion.” The concept is very simple, but we’ve made it complex. It is not difficult—marriage is one man and one woman following Jesus in covenant. And for us men, marriage solves many of our biggest problems:
Marriage solves sexual temptation. Both men and women are sexual creatures, and desire for the opposite sex is a good thing because it’s a God thing. Thus, we are commanded to practice sex within the confines of marriage. In fact, sexual intercourse between a husband and wife reflects the nature and character of God because both His masculine and feminine aspects are joined together to become one. Let me put this in a way that most all guys can understand. Sex is a Ferrari. If someone gives you a Ferrari you don’t trash it out or take it 4-wheeling. No, you take care of it. It is designed to be driven on the autobahn. You drive it on the freeway when the cops aren’t out. That’s what a Ferrari is for. Yet, we’ve taken the gift of sex, this Ferrari and trashed it out and abused it. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” This is the math of marriage: 1+1=1. In marriage, when a husband and wife fulfill each other sexually, it frees them up to hear from God in a deeper way. Proof of this is found in I Corinthians 7:5: “Do not deprive each other except by mutual and consent for a time, so that you devote yourselves to prayer.” Essentially, abstinence in a marriage can distract you from hearing God’s voice. Bottom line: Just get married!
Marriage Is About Covenant And Commitment
Now, sometimes you’ll have a unity candle in a wedding covenant. One time I did this wedding; this is pretty hilarious, full of body builders. I have some friends who are body builders. The guy, the groom, was a body builder — I mean a hulking guy. His bride was a body builder, too. So, it came time for the unity candle. Now, with the unity candle here’s what you do.
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He wants us to just sit back and I will read for awhile. This is not on the side screen, not on the view a verse. But I want you to listen to me as I read for you Solomon’s thoughts as he went into this search. You won’t believe this. I am reading out of Ecclesiastes 2 beginning with verse 3. Notice the personal pronoun. Talk about meistic. Whoa.
“I tried cheering myself with wine and embracing folly.” Solomon had a bunch of slaves and their job description was simply to hike up into the mountains and bring Solomon back icicles to cool his cocktails. “I want to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects. I built houses for myself…” Solomon’s house, if it was built today, would cost over two hundred billion dollars. It was sixty feet wider and eighty feet longer than the temple. The precious stones in this puppy were over twenty feet tall. The whole house was covered in gold. We are not talking about a track home here.
“…and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.” I read this past week that Solomon had moats around his residence. Some were ten feet deep and one hundred feet long. They required sixteen thousand gallons of water a day, and featured exotic fish and wildlife. “I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves that were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself and the treasures of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers…” He wants you to check this out. Solomon had the best singers of the day wake him in the morning and put him to bed at night. Wouldn’t that be cool? “Honey, tonight let’s hear the Back Street Boys.”
There is another suggestion I have. Give a reason-free gift now and then. Or you could say, write a reason-free note.
One researcher said it best. He said that parents who allow their children to watch MTV are playing Russian Roulette. Every song on MTV is not demonic, not perverted. Some are benign. A few things are inspiring. But the majority are. Parents, I can’t make the call for you. You have got to make the choice. I hate to do this, but I have got to take this area to the mat because as I swim upstream, the arts and music are not really holding up their end of the bargain.
Well, surely, the media will do it. There is so much power in the media. Did you see U.S. News and World Report this week. An article was entitled, “TV’s Frisky Family Values”. They had a research team that looked at a week of prime time television in mid-March and they found that there is more sex and sex talk on television than ever before. They didn’t even poll cable, Showtime and Cinemax and HBO. They just polled ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Here is what they came up with. Seinfeld, the number one rated show devoted episodes to themes like oral sex, masturbation, homosexuality and orgasm. We are talking prime time. On Friends, the second most popular comedy in America, Phoebe has a problem. Her new boyfriend won’t sleep with her. Her friend Joey says, “The guy still won’t put out, huh?” Later in the show Phoebe is very excited because she finally “made it” with her boyfriend. The trick she explains was to make it clear to him that she wasn’t expecting a commitment just because they had had sex. Joey says, “You mean he got you to agree to regular sex without a commitment? Wow. This guy is my god.”
Grace Under Fire, Grace promises to pay off her boyfriend with “mother nature’s credit card” if he will watch her kids. On Melrose Place, an inebriated Jake takes a stranger to his hotel room and says, “No strings attached, right?” “None but these,” she says, “dropping the spaghetti straps of her slip from her shoulders.” There is a sexual act or sexual reference every four minutes on prime time television. The average child watches 22.3 hours of television a week. The average teenager watches 22 hours of television a week. The National Institute For Mental Health has called entertainment TV an important sex educator. If so, the main lesson appears to be, go for it. Doesn’t it?
He is not some God with a giant baseball bat trying to trip you up, trying to trip me up. But He does tell us, part of My will is for you to go through the fire. Are you ready to face, though, those great walls of fire?
That’s all we need to do. If you don’t know an answer to a question, that’s why we have a bookstore. Just go and ask the bookstore. Ask one of us. We are commanded to do that, regularly share.
In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, “Go,” not Yo, “Go,” and the word literally in the original language means “as you are going, as you are swimming, as you are doing life,” “Go unto all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
I have got a friend named John. John has more fishing gear than anybody I have ever seen in my life. This guy looks like he is straight off the pages of Bass Pro Shop Magazine or Orvis or whatever. He has everything, the sweaters, the little jackets, the raingear, the boots, the socks, and he has all the rods and reels and tackle. When I go fishing with John, he is so immersed in the tackle and stuff, getting all set up, he rarely fishes.
He said, “John, you rarely fish. You have got all these cool refreshments and all this junk. Man, put it down and fish. The fish are biting.”
Don’t be like John. Fish.
But I am telling you that and also that you will be robbing yourself of a blessing. We will either be a dam or a river.
Most of us have forgotten about the planning it takes to come near. We have just drifted off into our own lives, and it’s no wonder that there are so many marriages struggling today.
It’s no different in our relationship with God. As we drift away from God, as we lose contact with God, the battles in our lives begin to increase. James says, if you are serious about ending the battles, you need to pull out a white flag and you need to come near to God. How do you do that? James gives us an interesting illustration about how we can come near to God. He says in verse 8 that we should wash our hands. Now what is he talking about there? He is using hand washing as an illustration that we are to deal seriously with sin. In other words, it’s sin that has caused us to drift away from God. If we are going to come back to God, if we are going to come near to God, then we need to deal seriously with sin.
Illus: As I told you last week one of the greatest compliments Lisa and I have ever received happened several months ago. A Jewish man who found out I am in the ministry began to talk to us. And we saw him for several days. And finally he stopped and he said, “I want to tell you guys something. Whatever you’re preaching, I know it’s real because your marriage is real. You guys love each other.”
When we walked out of that store where we had talked to him, Lisa and I were thinking, “Is that incredible?! We’re not perfect. We’re almost, but we’re not perfect. What a compliment!”
And I believe that one day that we’ll have an opportunity to lead him into a relationship with Christ. But I didn’t preach a sermon. I didn’t say “Do you have a Bible? Turn to the book of Genesis and let me show you….” I didn’t do that. He just observed. That’s the kind of power that we wield in marriage. That’s the kind of power that we leverage, the power of commitment, the power of holiness.
You know what? There’s going to be a lot of holes on the road to holiness, a lot of potholes and I have hit them and so have you and they’ll keep coming. But that is where God builds the stuff. So you know what I’m saying? Just get married. Just stay married. And if you’re not ready, just don’t get married. Okay? But in today’s world we have to take these concepts and principals from God’s Word and apply them and do the stuff that he wants us to do. So if you’re married, if you’re thinking about marriage, just stay married. Let’s say it again: Just stay married. Say it from the gut: Just stay married. And when you do, you’ll be glad that you did.