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Perseverance in Marriage
Scripture: Ephesians 5:25-33; Matthew 19:3-6; Genes...
Track 5 of 7 in the Transforming Families series
Running time: 57 minutes

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Last week we ended our lesson dealing with marriage and love and understanding what the "profound mystery" is that Paul talks about in Ephesians 5:25-33. This profound mystery has everything to do with how Jesus loves the church and gives himself up for her. Paul uses the closest example of that mystery and that example is the marriage between a man and a women in the covenant of marriage.

Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. "This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Last week we dealt with the all important question of why must the husband love his wife and why must the wife respect her husband? There are many reasons given by many different sources but the reason Paul gives through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is the one least thought of and the last practiced. The reason is, marriage is the human echo of what the relationship is between Jesus as the husband and the church as His Bride. In our marriages, we play out for the world to see the loving relationship of Christ.

We're in our second week at looking at the married couple as one of the subgroups that make up the "body of Christ". Hopefully we're beginning to get the picture that the church is a family, and together the church is the bride of our bridegroom Jesus Christ, …and that regardless of whether we've never been married, or we are divorced/widowed (single again), or are currently married… together the church is called to be "one" with Jesus.

Matthew 19:3-6 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' 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' ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

So what does it mean to have this kind of oneness? In the video there are three different types of flames that are to burn as one.

-raya-friendship (this flame is at "the core" of the marriage relationship)

-ahava-deep affection; a passion and an "intensity" of the relationship that leads to true and sincere commitment…it is "the love of the will. Now this way is more profound than fleeting romantic feelings.

-dode-physical intimacy; "Dode is the physical, sexual element to a relationship."

Is it possible to experience true ahava (deep passion/commitment) without a strong raya (friendship) at the core of the relationship? What are some simple ways to work on your friendship with one another? Is it possible to experience true "oneness" in terms of dode (sexual intimacy) without currently experiencing strong feelings of ahava (deep passion/commitment)?

"True sexuality is vast and mysterious. It involves all of you. I mean, you have a body, but you also have a soul and a spirit. And love is two people coming together and giving all of themselves to each other, forever." It is fascinating to read in its proper context the relationship between the husband and his bride. This relationship is way beyond just being friends. For many Christians, with Jesus, they are barely that. Unfortunately, they are the same way in their marriages as well.

I want you to turn to Genesis 2

Genesis 2:24-25 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Why does God mention that? Why was that important? Does true "nakedness" only have to do with the physical? Real friends can be completely "naked" with each other emotionally and intellectually, without feeling shame. How can we practice building on that kind of willingness to be transparent and vulnerable with our spouse?

As we studied last week, it is the man's responsibility to start the cycle. Just as Jesus made the first move is starting our relationship with him and making it perfect for the bride and making the bride perfect for the relationship, husbands are to do the same for their wives. Men need to know their wives are figure out what moves them. Macho is not Biblical. Tenderness, loving kindness, open and deep passion emotionally plus the physical loving of the wife is what the Biblical example is all about. Men, we have been fed a lie and many of us think it is all about the wives knowing their place in life and submitting to us men as some sort of slave. We might not have the guts to say that out loud but in many cases, our actions scream it out loud and clear.

How many relationships have you seen where all the flames are burning as one? Can you describe what it looked like to you? Do you think it's possible to be completely satisfied in your marriage without having all three flames burning?

Lets go back to Matthew 19

'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

What is one of the biggest reasons why many marriages struggle according to Jesus? Notice, it is not the woman leaving the Father and Mother in this passage. Why is this all about the man leaving his Father and Mother? Do you think Jesus is only referring to a physical separation of husband/wife?...a separation of the marriage? Or a separation of God's intention for oneness that includes the raya, the ahava, and the dode working all together, hand in hand?

Let's look at this passage in context with what is going on. Pharisees are trying to trick Jesus and to get him to make a misstatement. They are testing Jesus about the legalities of marriage and divorce while they really don't understand what marriage really is and why divorce or separation is such a heavy and hard reality to experience. It is a whole lot more than physical separation. It is also the tearing away of the emotional, friendship, deeply passionate parts of the relationship. Taking something that had become one and making into two parts again is very painful and destructive. The two parts are no longer the same as they were when before they were united in marriage. Becoming single again is a horrible ordeal and that is why Jesus stated that once two are joined together, it is not good for man to separate them.

The Challenge to Persevere When the Going Gets Tough

Those of us who have experienced marriage know very well that it can get tough at times and not everyday is awesome. Even the best of marriages run into challenges. For that matter, all relationship have their rough moments. What is important is not that hard times will come (we can be assured they will), what is important is what do we do when they do come. Following are some suggestions for when the hard times come and I want you to share some of your experiences that support the suggestions or even suggest that the suggestions might be in error.

Suggestion #1: Examine your personal relationship with Jesus, and offer up your marriage in prayer constantly…together would be ideal.

Suggestion #2: Take the thought of divorce extremely seriously, and do not allow the word "divorce" to become a part of your vocabulary. Divorce today is too common and not taken seriously anymore.

Suggestion #3: Start right where you are at today. Wherever you are, start today. Start Improving your marriage, it takes work, and you must be willing to work at it, but you also must be willing to allow other resources to help you work at it. Please let the church help before it's too late. We have several resources to help you.

Suggestion #4: Be able to view (together) the current obstacles and difficulties in your marriage as opportunities for great growth from which can produce a greater intimacy and commitment.

Suggestion #5: Remain optimistic that your marriage can be restored to the oneness that it was intended to be. We have to be realistic about the facts of marriage.

Suggestion #6: Only seek divorce as a solution after all other available resources have been attempted