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Summary: ? Sermon 5 of a New Year?s series based on Wilkinson?s book Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs.

Tomorrow is Valentine?s Day and I thought that I would begin this morning with a couple of statements by Doug Fields, a veteran of youth ministry and I believe the head of youth ministry at Saddleback Community Church in California which is pastored by Rick Warren.

The thoughts came from the February 7, 2005 e-mail column from Mikey?s Funnies.com.

It is entitled ?25 Things Every Couple Should Know.? Here are some excerpts:

1. to not yell at one another unless the house is on fire

2. the correct answer to "Do you love me?" is not, "I married you, didn’t I?"

3. to kiss when stuck in traffic

4. they need a weekend retreat at least twice a year

5. major house projects may need to be followed by minor marital counseling

6. sex begins in the morning by the way you talk to and treat one another

7. voice tone says it all

8. to find humor in negative situations

9. genuine love is valuing a spouse as God does

We have spent the opening weeks of 2005 hearing suggested resolutions designed to help us experience spiritual breakthroughs in our lives, our walk with the Lord, and with our children. Here is a quick review of those suggested resolutions:

I resolve with the help of God to?

(overhead 1)

follow Christ no matter how or where it leads me.

honestly confess sin and deal with the root cause(s) of it in my life.

(overhead 2)

daily choose to follow Jesus

adjust my life as needed to daily follow Jesus.

to join with my fellow believers in this church to accomplish our mission.

(overhead 3)

respect every member of my family?period

deal with the shame that binds my heart and soul

accept the God ordained truth that parents are the primary caregivers of their children

We conclude this morning by considering some important resolutions related to marriage. Here they are: (overhead 4)

to be absolutely committed to my spouse?period

to not let my emotions negatively influence my commitment to my spouse

Before we take a look at our main text from this morning, I want to address the issues of loyalty and commitment that are very, very important in having a strong and healthy marriage.

I use the terms strong and healthy because I know of marriages that have lasted for 50 years or more but are (unfortunately) neither strong nor healthy. I have observed marriages of fewer than 25 years in length that are strong and healthy because they have made, over and over again, these two resolutions.

These resolutions are at the heart of the commitment that Jesus indicates is close to God?s heart in Matthew 19. The chapter opens with another discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees about the issue of divorce.

The Pharisees try, of course, to trap Jesus into saying something that they could use against Him. So they bring up the subject of divorce with a question that is asked a lot these days, (verse 3):

Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for any reason?

Notice that the husband holds the power to divorce, not the wife. In those days, in that culture, and still in the more strict and conservative societies and movements of today?s Middle East, that is still the case ? women had no rights.

The other thing to notice is the broadness of the question in the phrase ?for any reason.?

The questioners are trying to see how far Jesus would permit divorce. Do we not do the same today?

Jesus? response is very important because we hear God?s bottom-line view on marriage. (verse 6) ?Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.?

This is followed by another provocative question, ?Why then did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away??

Jesus? response is again instructive and important, very, very important. ?Moses permitted divorce as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery-unless his wife has been unfaithful.?

The disciples? response is also instructive ?Then it is better not to marry!? And Jesus points out that not everybody can live in a celibate state, which by the way, was the answer to the question of marriage in the early days of the Christian faith. People were encouraged to stay single rather than marry because, as Paul points out in I Corinthians 7, it allows a person to better concentrate on serving the Lord. Yet Paul also points out that not everyone can live this way.

In His response that is recorded in verse 8, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 24:1 which says this, Suppose a man marries a woman but later discovers something about her that is shameful. So he writes a letter of divorce and sends her away.?

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