Summary: This message includes ten characteristics of marriages that last. We concluded the service by honoring several couples who had been married for 50 years or more. It was a great way to communicate God’s standard for marriage of one man and one woman for

Pastor’s Note: Just before this message, we had the ladies on the praise team sing their own rendition of “Stand by Your Man”.

Stand by your man. That might sound a little chauvinistic in today’s culture, but I have to tell you, when a man treats his wife the way the Bible says she should be treated, I don’t think I have ever met a woman who wouldn’t want to stand by that man.

Ephesians 5:22 (MSG)

22 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.

Guys often want to sight verse 22, where the NIV says Wives, submit to your husbands. They need to read on to verse 23-24.

Ephesians 5:23-24 (MSG)

23 The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.

24 So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

This is the biblical instruction that Paul offers to wives. Guys, he offers us instruction too and if we will do our part, it will be much easier for your wife to do hers. Our part begins in verse 25.

Ephesians 5:25-28 (MSG)

25 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.

26 Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her,

27 dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.

28 And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already "one" in marriage.

Ladies, can you stand by your man when he loves you like Christ loves the church? Of course you can. You’ll be amazed to see what can happen when you follow the directions for relationships that are found in God’s Word.

Ephesians 5:33 (MSG)

33 And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

This morning I want to talk to you about Marriage that goes the distance.

When I began working on this message I decided I was not going to bore you with statistics that you have already heard. There is no need to shock you with the incredibly high divorce rate in America. You know it is a crisis.

There is not one family in this room who has not been affected by divorce. You may come from a broken home; perhaps you have been divorced yourself, or members of your family have been through the tragedy of a divorce.

We are not here to beat up on anybody who has been divorced. But I think it would be a shame if we didn’t make clear the fact that God’s standard for marriage is one man and one woman for life.

Matthew 19:8 (NLT)

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.

We also need to admit that divorce is not the unpardonable sin and we want to be loving and redemptive to those whose lives have been impacted by a broken marriage. The good news is you don’t have to be a statistic and if you have been a statistic for divorce, my prayer is that God will speak to your heart today and equip you with tools that will enable you to have a healthy, happy marriage in the future.

My goal today is to examine some of the key characteristics of marriages that go the distance. What does it take to have a marriage that lasts 40, 50, 60 years or more? And yes, I believe it can still happen even in our enlightened, relativistic, post –modern world. Gods plan for marriage has not changed. Then at the end of the service we’re going to recognize several couples in our church family who have demonstrated that it can be done.

Every wedding I do still includes the vows, “till death do us part.” So the question is, how do we do it? How can we establish and develop marriages that last a lifetime? And I should point out that I am talking about healthy, happy marriages, not relationships that are endured for a lifetime. Nobody wants to be miserable.

Right after Laurie and I got married I told her, “If you ever leave me, I am going with you.” That’s worked for us! She has never left. Neither have I. That’s because we made a commitment for life; We said, “until we are parted by death and we mean it.”

I wonder, if divorce were not an option, do you think people would take marriage more seriously? I do. But when we keep divorce on the table as a possibility, it hinders our willingness to do whatever it takes to make our marriage work.

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