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Don’t divorce your unsaved husband or wife. Why? Paul gives this reason: The believer may have a positive, spiritual influence on their unbelieving mate. The unbeliever may get saved due to the believing spouse’s example and lifestyle. 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” I think this is what Peter had in mind as well when he wrote these instructions in 1 Peter 3: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
I think a perfect illustration of this is in the life of my in-laws—Harold and Dorothy Wills. When they got married, mom was a believer and dad was an unbeliever. And dad was content to stay married to mom so they never even considered divorce. Now, Dorothy was careful not to nag Harold with the gospel. She simply prayed for him, answered his questions about the Lord when he asked, and endeavored to live the Christian life in front of him. Finally, in 1987, after 48 years of marriage, at the age of 75, Harold Wills accepted the Lord as his Savior. And I’m convinced that my father-in-law is in heaven today because of the patient, faithful witness of his wife, Dorothy.
So let me encourage you. If you are married to an unbeliever and he or she is content to remain married to you, then don’t divorce. Share the gospel with your unsaved spouses. But don’t nag them with it. Rather, pray for them. And live an exemplary Christian life in front of them. Who knows? Maybe your example will eventually lead them to Christ.
Sermon Central Staff
There’s an old story about Dr. Benjamin Warfield. He was a theology professor at Princeton Seminary. While he was still at the height of his academic powers, his wife got sick. And she became an invalid. He took care of her for ten years. During that ten year period, he never spent more than 2 hours away from his wife. Even though she was handicapped, she still loved to read. And so Dr. Warfield would sit at her bedside day after day. And read to her. He was always gentle and caring with her.
One day, someone asked him, "Have you ever thought about taking your wife to an institution?" Then you could write bigger books and have a bigger ministry." But Dr. Warfield said, "No way. My wife is my ministry. I will never leave her side. I am going to love her and take care of her as long as God grants us life."
That’s how the Lord Jesus feels about us. He will not walk away from us. He will not abandon us. He will not throw us away like yesterday’s news.. He will minister his love and his compassion to us just as Dr. Warfield did for his wife.
(From a sermon by Marc Axelrod, Justice and Compassion For All, 8/16/2010)
More than anyone else Christian parents can have the most influence on their children, because when Christ died upon the Cross the veil was ripped open so they could enter into the presence of God who sits on the Throne of Grace. The call to pray is from God’s Word and we are given a sure promise, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b) One mother who knew this truth was Monica Augustine, the mother of St. Augustine who after a long struggle was converted to Christianity. St. Augustine was born in North Africa (Tagaste, Numidia) to a Christian mother and his father was a pagan until very late in life. Augustine’s childhood was marred by stealing pears and his ability to learn led him to one humanistic philosophy after another. He even had an obsession with the occult for a season in his life. During his period of exploration he lived a life of excessive fleshly desires causing him to become the father of a child by a mistress. After his conversion to Christ Augustine became the author of many great works writing about the “…City of God,” “On the Trinity,” “On Faith,” “Hope,” “Love” and “Christian Doctrine.” Augustine’s most widely read book is “The Confessions” which are several books that record how he felt about the Lord and his prayers to God. Studying Augustine’s life during that period of living in selfish sin shows that the Christian living he saw in his mother and the Christian teaching he received was not a waste of time. Thirteen years before his conversion he was moved in his prayers to return to God (Confessions #3:4) but he could not make himself do so. One year before his conversion Augustine was influenced by a man (Ambrose) who he knew was presenting “healthy teaching on salvation,” yet he could not return to the teaching and lifestyle he saw in his mother because of self-living. Listen to these confessions of Augustine while he struggled with sin and surrendering to Christ. “I was storm tossed and you [God] held the tiller.” “I was swept away by your beauty [Lord] and then I was torn away from you by my own weight [of sin] and fell back groaning toward these [lesser] thing [in life].” While being exposed for nearly a year to “healthy teachings of salvation” he wrote, “But salvation is far from sinners of the kind that I was then.” When Augustine was being moved to prayer to return to God he writes, “[I was] on fire to leave earthly things behind and fly back” [to God]. But there was an obstacle that kept Augustine from reaching God, he writes, “The Name of Christ was not there…” Augustine writes about how the Name of Jesus Christ was his mother’s milk and His Name touched his heart tenderly, but the fruit of his life was surrendered to self-will and not God’s will. Finally in early August 386 Augustine abandoned his teaching career and his proposed marriage and went off with some friends to live a life of contemplation. One day he heard how some men had moved to give their whole heart and life to serve the Lord. Augustine was suddenly confronted with his sin of self-living. He rushed out into the garden and flung himself under the fig tree and wept bitterly, crying out to God, “How long, how long, why should not this hour be an end to my baseness?” From a neighboring yard he heard the voice of a child say, “Take and read” Augustine went over to a bench where laid a copy of the Apostle Paul’s Epistle and he read Romans 13:13-14, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:13-14) At that moment Augustine put on Christ, took on the Name that was missing, the only key person missing in his life that would enable him to live for God. Long before we even came into this world the grace of God confronted Augustine as dramatically as God’s grace did the Apostle Paul. At age 31 Augustine’s struggle came to an end and through him came teachings and service that laid the foundation of Western theology. Augustine has often been call “Bishop of Hippo” and “Doctor of the Church.” The opening prayer of Augustine’s “Confessions” sums up his whole experience in life. He writes, “Our hearts are restless until they can find peace with you [Lord Jesus].” Augustine and one of his friends put on Christ and they went and told Monica his mother. Fredrick S. Leahy wrote about this time in Christian history, “Over the years she had prayed for her wayward son with tears. Now her prayers were answered yes to and her heart’s wishes granted.”
PRAYER DOESN'T CHANGE GOD, IT CHANGES ME
In a scene from Shadowlands, a film based on the life of C.S. Lewis, Lewis has returned to Oxford from London, where he has just been married to Joy Gresham, an American woman, in a private Episcopal ceremony performed at her hospital bedside. She is dying from cancer, and, through the struggle with her illness, she and Lewis have been discovering the depth of their love for each other. As Lewis arrives at the college where he teaches, he is met by Harry Harrington, an Episcopal priest, who asks what news there is. Lewis hesitates; then, deciding to speak of the marriage and not the cancer, he says, "Ah, good news, I think, Harry. Yes, good news."
Harrington, not aware of the marriage and thinking that Lewis is referring to Joy’s medical situation, replies, "I know how hard you’ve been praying .... Now, God is answering your prayer."
"That’s not why I pray, Harry," ...
Sometime ago a man who was Pastor in a large church, very successful in everything he did except one thing – the most important thing. He was failing in his marriage. The reason was, because his wife could see through him. She knew what he was really like. Not what he was like up in the pulpit, but at home. That’s where it counts. This man had written many books, served on one of the presidents staff, and from start to finish was successful except, in his own home. He knew a lot of the truth of the Word as shared here and his pastoral counselor was becoming very frustrat-ed because they weren’t making any progress. So in praying, the counselor asked the Lord, “What’s standing in the way of this man’s being broken?” The next day as they discussed that very subject, he said, “Jesus was made of no reputation, how would you like to be made of no reputation? “NO!” he said! “Why not?” He responded, “I’ve spent my whole life trying to make something out of myself.” Then he remembered he was born in a little town in the South where his Dad was the town drunk. And he was embarrassed as a child for time and time again he and his mother would go to the bars and get Dad and bring him home. He vowed as a little boy that he would restore the family name and he did. But he was failing in his marriage. And when he began to realize that he had to be made of no reputation, just as Jesus was, he got on his knees, humbled himself, and agreed -- surrendering his right.
James H. Cook, Jr.
I heard of a couple who, as they were paying for groceries in the check-out line, were discussing their soon to be 50th wedding anniversary, when the young cashier interjected by saying, "I can’t imagine being married to same man for 5o years!"
The wife wisely replied, teaching the young girl a lesson at the same time, "Well, Honey, don’t get married until you can ."
Annie Dillard, in her book The Writing Life, tells of an experiment that was done with butterflies. The experiment involved placing a male butterfly with a female butterfly of his own species. Then they placed a painted cardboard butterfly alongside them. The cardboard butterfly was bigger than the female — bigger than any female could ever be. The male ignored the living female butterfly next to him and went to the painted cardboard butterfly over and over again. Dillard adds, “Nearby, the real, living female opens and closes her wings in vain.” It is a picture of the world in which countless males are trapped today. Staring at painted cardboard butterflies they are squandering their own resources and defrauding the real, living, breathing females in their homes. But then you don’t have to establish a relationship with cardboard butterflies. You don’t have to put up with their failures — nor do they have to live with you and discover yours. There are no expectations from you. You don’t have to communicate with them. An inviting smile is painted on their faces and they don’t even know you. Perhaps it is better that way.
When David Brainerd took the message of redemption to the North American Indians from 1743 to his death at age 29 just four years later, a revival broke out that impacted the Native American community. Baugh writes, "The revival had greatest impact when Brainerd emphasized the compassion of the Savior, the provisions of the gospel, and the free offer of divine grace. Idolatry was abandoned, marriages repaired, drunkenness practically disappeared, honesty and repayments of debts prevailed. Money once wasted on excessive drinking was used for family and communal needs. Their communities were filled with love."
In 1857, four young Irishmen began a weekly prayer meeting in a village school. The next year, more prayer meetings started and revival was the common theme of the preachers. The next year, 100,000 people were converted into the churches of Ireland in what is marked as the beginning of the Ulster revival of 1859. By 1860, crime was reduced and the judges had no cases to try. One county in Ireland reported no crime and the no prisoners were held in the jail. It was the greatest thing to hit Ireland since the ministry of Saint Patrick. Services were packed with people, there was an abundance of prayer meetings, family prayers increased, Scripture reading was unmatched, Sunday Schools prospered, people stood firm, giving increased, vice abated, and crime was reduced significantly.
In the Welsh revival that occured around the turn of the 20th century, 100,000 outsiders were added to the churches. Again from Baugh: "Drunkenness was immediately cut in half, and many taverns went bankrupt. Crime was so diminished th...
The Eskimo’s are among the greatest hunter’s of the world, but there is one animal that is the most difficult for them to catch. This animal has the greatest intellect, keenest smell, and the sharpest eyesight. And yet for the Eskimo’s to survive they must trap and kill this animal before it destroys their way of life. The animal I speak of is the white wolf. The white wolf has a sense of smell that can detect the presence of a human up to 2 miles away. It’s suggested that his eyesight is so great that if man had the same eyesight he could read a newspaper from 150 yards away. It is their eyesight, sense of smell, and their cunning that make them the most difficult animal to bring down. And yet, the Eskimo’s have devised a tactic that never fails. And it is similar to the tactic that the devil uses to attack Christians. The Eskimo’s say there is no sense in going against all the ability that the white wolf possesses. The devil says there no sense in going against the power of God in you. To bring down the white wolf, the Eskimo’s take a knife and sharpen it to a razor’s edge, put it outside and let it freeze, dip it in blood, freeze, again and again until there is a thick coat of blood on the knife. Then they go out into the wilderness and plant it in the ground blade up. The wolf scenting what is on the blade, and sensing that there is no danger, believes he has a free lunch. There is nothing to be alarmed about, so he makes his way to the knife. The blood has drawn him to it, and he licks it and nothing happens, he licks again and again. But with each lick he is working his way closer and closer to what’s going to destroy him. How many Christian’s have been tempted to give into sin, tempted to mix God’s standards with the world’s, tempted to take that lustful glance, that first drink, to tell that little white lie, to cheat on a test, to cheat on their taxes, or to cheat on their spouse. and have taken that 1st, 2nd, 3rd lick not knowing that their getting closer to what’s going to destroy them. Now, the white wolf gets comfortable and licks faster and faster as he tastes the frozen blood. Then he gets to the blade and slices his tongue but doesn’t even know it, because he is numbed by the bloody ice. Now he is tasting his own blood, but he continues to lick until the blade is clean and his tongue is shredded. He never walks more than a mile before he bleeds to death and the hunter has won. The devil has planted blades all around us. And all he wants you to do is to get comfortable with the first lick. No one will ever see, no one will ever know. Your safe, there is no harm. But with every lick you’re getting closer to the blade, to destruction, to death. The blades that Satan offers appear to be beautiful, desirable, something to be longed for, something that will bring satisfaction & pleasure. But they will destroy your life. Countless Christians have been overcome by things that Satan has set in front of them and they lost everything that was truly dear to them, their home, marriage, family, and friends. I can handle it.
Sermon Central Staff
THE EEYORE SYNDROME
In the past I have spoken of what I call, "The Eeyore Syndrome"--these are Christians who walk around acting like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. They choose to look at the gloomy side of life. Their eyes are cast down, their countenance is cheerless, and they have no enthusiasm or anticipation for life.
Joyful people cannot have The Eeyore Syndrome. The Eeyore Syndrome is not a Fruit of the Spirit. The Eeyore Syndrome is not a realistic view of life nor faith-filled.
William Ward writes words about discouragement that can apply to the Eeyore Syndrome. He says, "Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God."
(SOURCE: William Ward. Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 18. From a sermon by Ken Pell, A Fruit-Full Marriage: Joy-full Love, 6/26/2011)