Saturday, February 14, 2009




8 February 2009


I. Introduction

    -- turn in Bibles to Ephesians 5


21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

23. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

26. to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

27. and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

28. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--

30. for we are members of his body.

31. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

32. This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.

33. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.


    -- this morning we are starting a new sermon series on the movie, "Fireproof" -- the new movie from Sherwood Baptist Church that just came out last week -- I know that some of you in here have seen the movie -- for those who haven't seen it, I want to invite you to come out tonight and see it with us at 6:00 pm -- we'll let the kids watch a movie in the back room and we'll enjoy a screening of "Fireproof" here in the sanctuary

    -- this movie is about strengthening the marriage relationship -- as we go through this series, you'll see that a couple of the sermons will focus primarily on marriages and the relationships with your spouse, but the majority of these sermons are going to have principles that you can apply in all your relationships -- whether that's with your spouse -- your family -- your friends -- or your God

    -- when I saw the initial screening of the movie, I was very excited about the focus of this movie -- this is something that is near to my heart and something that I have been talking about from the pulpit for years

    -- the family is in trouble in America today -- marriages are in trouble in America today -- right now, the divorce rate in America is holding steady at over 50% -- we have more kids growing up in single parent homes right now than ever before -- we have more couples living together unmarried than ever before -- and it's not just the unchurched

    -- it's people who have received Christ as their Savior -- people who are dedicated to the Lord -- people who come to church and who have stood before their God and their family and friends and who have made a covenant to stay married who are divorcing in unheard of numbers today

    -- right now, the divorce rate among Christians is 54% -- it's even higher than that of people outside the church -- I just found out recently that a friend of mine was getting divorced -- this man is a dedicated Christian -- he's not just a Sunday Christian -- this is a man who is totally devoted to God -- who has served as the leader on Emmaus walks -- who has gone into the prisons to minister to others -- this is a man whose wife is very active in her church -- whose wife is in leadership roles in women's ministry -- but now they're divorcing


    -- why is that? -- what is causing Christians to divorce? -- if you think about it, Christians should be the last people in the world who you would think would get divorced

    -- we are the people who proclaim the name of Christ -- we are the people who proclaim forgiveness and love to others because of the forgiveness and love shown to us by our God -- so, why do so many Christian marriages end in divorce?

    -- think about it like this -- look at the center aisle -- this line is about half the church -- what this means is that in any given church you walk into, the odds are all the people on this side of the room are going to get divorced at some point in their life -- and it just doesn't make any sense

    -- like I said, these are Christians -- these are Christian families -- it's not like they just go home after church one day and say, "You know, I'm just going to throw my life and my family away -- I'm just going to turn my back on everything I believe in and everything God told me" -- now, we know it's not that -- so what is causing this epidemic in America today?



II. The Primary Cause of Divorce

    -- I've spent some time pondering that -- thinking about that -- we know that there's some big things out there that can lead to divorce -- spousal abuse -- addictions -- bad financial decisions that really impact families -- but I don't think that's what's driving the divorce rate among Christians

    -- I don't think it's the big things -- I think it's the little things -- think of it like this -- how many of you in here have been bitten by an elephant? -- how many of you have been bitten by a rhinoceros? -- now how many have ever been bitten by a mosquito?

    -- you see, it's the little things that creep in and chip away at marriages that you really have to watch out for -- and I think the most common little thing that causes problems in marriages is communication -- most Christian marriages begin to fail when communication begins to fail -- when spouses just aren't spending time together and aren't talking and sharing with each other

    -- it can be hard for men and women to communicate with each other -- men and women are different -- we all know that -- our bodies are different -- our minds are different -- we think differently -- we talk differently -- we reason differently -- men and women are not the same -- and so that makes communication difficult

    -- From the first moment of birth, little girls have more lip and mouth movement than boys -- In a Harvard study of hundreds of preschoolers, researchers found that 100% of the sounds coming from little girls' mouths were words -- while only 60% of sounds coming from preschool boys were words -- The other 40% were yells and sound effects like, "Vrrooom!" "Aaaaagh!" and "Toot, toot!" -- those of you who have had both boys and girls or who have spent time with toddlers know exactly what I'm talking about

    -- Gary Smalley pointed out that "This difference persists into adulthood -- Communication experts say that the average woman speaks over 25,000 words a day, while the average man speaks only a little over 10,000" -- is it any wonder that we have communication problems in our marriages? -- by the time a man gets home from work, he's probably used up his daily amount of words while his wife is just warming up

    -- Smalley said that he asked couples how much time they needed to spend in meaningful conversation with their spouses to keep their relationship strong -- women said they need 45 minutes to an hour every day -- men said they need 15-20 minutes, but only once or twice a week

    -- and then, when you add in all the differences in the way we think and reason and act -- you can see how communication can be challenging -- when I counsel couples who are thinking about getting married, I tell them that getting married is like moving to another country -- in order to live there, they're going to have to learn a new language -- new customs -- new traditions -- and it's only the ones who take the time and put in the effort that are truly happy in this new place


    -- now that we've spent some time talking about the dangers of not communicating with each other, let's take a moment and look at a clip from the movie, "Fireproof" [show clip 1]


III. Fireproofing Your Relationship

    -- men and women are different -- but, we have to keep in mind that God designed us like that -- He made us different to complement each other -- not "compliment" -- but "complement" -- just like Tom Cruise told Renee Zelweger in the movie, "Jerry Maguire:" "You complete me"

    -- God made us different so that we would need other people in our lives to complete us and to make us whole -- our differences should unite us -- not divide us

    -- so, how do we do we do that? -- how do we reach the point where our relationships complete our life? -- or, as this movie asks, "How do we fireproof our marriages so that we can walk through the fires of life together without being burned?"

    -- in this passage from Ephesians, God gives us three important concepts that we must apply in our relationships if we want them to be fireproofed -- these are the words "submit," "respect," and "love"


    -- look back at verse 21



21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.


     -- this verse tells us that we are to submit to each other -- the Greek word here literally means that to line yourself up under or to give up your rights -- in other words, God tells us that successful relationships are built upon the principle of selflessness -- on the principle that we put the other person's needs before our own

    -- each person in a marriage is to give up their rights and look out for the best interests of their partner -- if you come into a marriage and refuse to give up your rights, your marriage just will not work well -- giving up our rights is an essential part of meeting each other's needs -- you can't meet your partner's needs if you are demanding that your needs be met at the same time

    -- if Kim needs me to take out the trash, then I am called to submit -- to give up my right to sit on the couch and watch t.v. in order to meet her needs and in order to work in the best interests of our marriage -- and the same holds true for her -- she has to give up her rights in order to meet my needs

    -- this is the same thing that Christ did for us -- He humbled Himself and became a servant to us -- suffering humiliation and death on the cross -- to meet our needs -- and He calls for us to do the same thing for those people that we are in a relationship with -- especially our spouses

    -- the first principle in fireproofing your marriage is to submit one to the other


    -- verse 22


22. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

23. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.


     -- now in these verses we see the word "submit" again -- but a better translation would be "respect" -- God is telling us here that if we want strong marriages -- if we want strong relationships -- then wives are to respect their husbands

    -- you heard that word come up in the clip from the movie that we watched -- men have been created with a need for respect -- this means that wives line themselves under the leadership of their husbands -- they submit to their leadership within the marriage relationship and they encourage and help their husbands meet their marriage responsibilities

    -- even a casual reading of Scripture will lead you to see that God is giving men authority to be the leaders of their household -- that means that men are responsible for the direction that their house is going

    -- it's kind of like a ship -- the marriage ship, if you will -- men are called to be the captains of the ship -- it is their responsibility to point the ship in the right direction and to make sure that it gets there -- it is their responsibility to know the route and to know the hazards of the route and to make sure that the ship avoids the storms and the rocks and the dangers of the sea -- it is the captain's responsibility to take care of his crew -- to make sure they are kept safe -- to make sure they are taken care of -- to make sure everyone is working to help the ship go in the right direction

    -- the wives, then, are called to assist the captain -- to help him direct the ship to their final destination -- and it takes both of them, working together, to pull this off

    -- they are partners -- the husbands have to trust their wives to do their part while the wives have to trust their husbands to be good captains of their marriage

    -- this is the biblical image of a marriage -- two people, joined together and working together in Christ's name to keep their family pointed toward their heavenly destination

    -- so, for this reason, wives are called in this passage to respect -- to submit to their husbands, because their husbands are the ones who are supposed to be leading the family -- so, whose responsibility is it to make sure that the family is running smoothly and headed in the right direction -- the husband's

    -- this goes all the way back to the book of Genesis -- not good for man to be alone -- Gen 2:18 -- "help meet" -- NIV "helper" -- Eve was created to help Adam meet his responsibilities -- not take them over -- they were still Adam's responsibilities -- Eve was simply supposed to help -- to complement his efforts -- to complete him    

    -- when the wife follows the leadership of a Godly man, she if fulfilling her God-given purpose -- that is why it says in Ephesians 5:22, "submit as to the Lord" -- if a man is doing what God has called him to do, then when a woman follows him, she is acting in obedience to God

    -- this is the second principle for fireproofing your marriage -- wives are to respect their husbands


    -- and women, I'm going to go ahead and let you in on a secret -- most of us men are insecure in this area -- we need to know that we're the hero in our home -- we need to know that we're doing a good job -- we need to be affirmed and encouraged

    -- you would be surprised at what a difference phrases like, "I'm so proud of you" or "I believe in you" or "you do that so well" make in the well-being of a husband

    -- you need to respect your husbands -- and, if for whatever reason, you've stopped respecting your man, then think about what first attracted you to him, pray about how you can regain that sense of respect -- make a list of things you need to do if it will help you -- but decide that you are going to respect your husband once again and then get busy showing your respect to him

    -- this can make the difference in your marriage


    -- verse 25


25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

26. to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

27. and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

28. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.


    -- if there's one thing I have learned about women, it's that I will never truly understand them -- I will never really understand what it means to be a woman -- I don't know why women can't go to the bathroom by themselves in a restaurant -- I don't know why it takes hours to get ready to go out -- men, we're never going to go through monthly cycles or menopause -- we'll never get pregnant or do any of those other things that make women women -- so, we'll never really understand what it's like to be a woman

    -- but I do know this -- our wives need to know that we love them -- they need to hear it from us -- they need to feel it from us -- they need to receive it from us -- and the way our wives receive our love will probably be in a way that we have never studied or trained or prepared for -- there's a book by Gary Chapman that I recommend to every married couple I know -- it's called, "The Five Love Languages" -- and it points out that people receive love in different ways and it teaches you how to learn the way your spouse receives and understands love

    -- but even if you don't have this book, let me share with you how to show your love best to your spouse -- listen to her -- listen to her dreams and her feelings and her fears and her thoughts -- if you'll listen to her -- with full eye contact and as much emotional engagement as possible for just 5 to 10 minutes a day -- it will fill her more than you can know -- and your marriage will reap the benefit


    -- that's what Paul means here when he tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church -- it means to love them sacrificially -- to give ourselves to them -- to put aside our rights and our needs and to just serve them by spending time with them -- we don't have to fix every problem -- when they're sharing with us about their day, they're not looking for us to solve anything -- they just want us to listen and to be there and to love them

    -- that's what we see in the life of Christ -- He always had time for other people -- He always took time to show them He loved them

    -- when Christ was going to the temple, he loved the church so much he stopped to heal a sick woman -- when Christ was going to preach in Galilee, he loved the church so much he stopped to speak to a Samaritan woman at the well -- Christ always had time for His people -- He always had time for a touch or a laugh -- or to heal someone -- or to show love or compassion

    -- He always put others first, never Himself -- He forgave wrongs -- He didn't keep a grudge -- He modeled a life of love and service to the church all the time He was here on earth -- this is what this verse is talking about

    -- this verse is calling for us men to love our wives in the same way -- to give ourselves up for our wives -- to put aside our wants and our wishes and live in love and service to our wife

-- as Ray Steadman once said in a sermon, "No husband is playing his proper role in marriage until he learns to give himself up to his wife -- to open his heart to her -- to share his emotions and dreams -- his thoughts and disappointments -- his joys -- to fully expose himself to his wife -- and there is nothing that makes a woman happier than to know that she fully enters her husband's life -- that fulfills her and it fulfills him"

-- look at your wife right now -- think about your relationship with her and with your family -- are you fulfilling her -- are you doing what God has called you to do -- are you loving her as Christ loved the church, giving yourself up for her?

-- the third principle for fireproofing your marriage is to love your wife as Christ loved the church, and the best way to do that is by spending time with her and listening to her and communicating with her


IV. Closing

    -- I know I've been going on for a while now, so I'm going to wrap this up -- but I'm going to close with a challenge -- in the movie, Caleb is about to give up on his marriage, when his dad hands him a special little hand-written book -- The book is called the LOVE DARE -- and in it is 40 days' worth of practical ways for Caleb to demonstrate his love to Catherine

    -- Caleb's dad challenges him to do one of these love dares every day for the next 40 days and see if it doesn't change his attitude and his marriage -- Caleb takes the challenge, and the dares do their work -- At the end of the 40 days, he really is a different man, just like we will be 40 days from now, if we take this series seriously.

    -- One of the things Caleb discovers while working his love dares is that putting tangible effort into loving his wife does more to change him than change her -- if you saw the movie, you might remember the scene where Catherine stays home sick from work -- Caleb sees her in bed and asks if she needs anything -- she says "no" because she doesn't believe he really wants to love her and submit to her needs -- but he persists and he goes out and gets her lunch and gets her some medicine -- when he gives her the medicine, she says, "What are you doing? -- this isn't normal" -- and Caleb says "Welcome to the new normal." -- Caleb has changed, even though she may not have realized it yet


    -- Over these next six weeks – which works out to almost 40 days – we are going to have our own Love Dare Challenges -- They'll be practical assignments designed to raise the level of your relationships, whether you're married or whether you're single

    -- I know that many of you thought you were just going to come to a nice safe church service, sit through it and go home -- But church was never meant to be that way -- church is supposed to be life-changing -- God-honoring -- and hope-filled.


    -- So are you ready for this first love dare challenge? -- when you leave here today, I've got a handout for you -- it's got questions on it for husbands and wives and singles -- and the challenge for this week is to think about and pray about the answers to these questions -- and then to do something this week that fulfills that need in your partner or, if you're single, with someone else that you are in a relationship with


    -- let's close in prayer -- and remember that the altar is always open if you need a special time with the Lord this morning -- let's pray

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