Summary: The first sermon in a short series on marriage, family and the home, based loosely on Francis Chan's book You and Me Forever

God’s Plan for the Home (Part One)

Text: 1st Corinthians 7:25 – 31

So today, I’m going to start a three part series titled, “God’s Plan for the Home.” And I’m specifically going to focus on marriage… and so if you’re here, and maybe you’re not married yet… or you’re here and you’re widowed… or for whatever reason you’re not married, don’t think this isn’t for you. Because all the things in Scripture are profitable for all who hear it.

So let me start by asking you a question… How long do you think a marriage should last? Well… “till death do us part right? I mean that might be 30 years, that might be 50 or 60 years right?”

Well what would you think if I told you that your marriage isn’t going to last very long? Now let me clarify that by adding something to it. Your marriage isn’t going to last very long when you compare it to how long eternity is. Now have you ever thought about how long eternity is? Or what it even means that people are going to be spending eternity in either heaven or hell? And I know… a lot of people don’t like to hear that there’s a hell. We all like to hear about heaven, and how awesome it’s going to be… but if we’re going to believe the Bible, then we can’t pick and choose to believe in only the parts we like and neglect the parts we don’t like? Heaven is real… but so is hell… and people are going to be spending all of eternity in one or the other. And when you start to look at things… and you realize that this is real… that this is really going to happen… that people really will spend all of eternity in one of those places. It starts to change how you look at things. And it changes how you approach things, and how you view things, and it changes what’s important to you. And you can tell a lot about what a person believes by looking at what’s important in their lives. You know… what they give their time to, and their efforts to. And when you get this perspective… you know… that heaven and hell are real… not just some abstract principles we read about in the Bible… but actual, real places… and that eternity is forever. It even changes how you look at marriage, and the family.

You see; when God blessed me with a wife… and then with children my focus shifted. A lot of you know that right after I got out of the army, a lot of my ministry was focused on street evangelism… some of you have heard my testimony or you’ve heard me talk about it. But once I got married, and then after my girls were born, my focus shifted. The priority of my ministry shifted to my family first and foremost. Because I love my family… and I understood that it would be unloving to my family to not prepare them for the reality of eternity.

Ok, pastor Ken… how do you do that? How do you do “being married” biblically? And how do you raise kids biblically? And how do you build your home biblical?

Well MariJo and I have been married for 17 years, and I love my wife more than ever. And we have a good marriage… and it’s because we learned this key component to marriage early on. We value our marriage… but we also understand it’s proper place in God’s plan.

Turn with me to 1st Corinthians 7:25 – 31 (READ)

Now the Apostle Paul wrote that… he’s also the exact same guy who wrote Ephesians 5… You know Ephesians 5:22 – 28… Let’s read that really quickly (READ).

When you read those two passages, you might think that they contradict one another if you don’t understand what Paul’s saying in them. You know… what’s that mean to live like you’re not married… but at the same time submit to your husband, and husbands love your wife as Christ loves the Church?

You see; most the teaching we hear on the subject of marriage will focus on those verses in Ephesians 5, but when we do that, we’re missing out on the full counsel of God’s Word on the subject of marriage. The Biblical teaching on marriage actually runs all through Scripture… all the way from Genesis to Revelation. And we want to focus in on just these verses in Ephesians.

But hows that working out for the Church? How’s it working out for God’s people… that we’ve focused just on these few verses in Ephesians? I mean within Christianity today families fall apart at an equal rate as non-Christian families… Husbands neglect their wives… wives disrespect their husbands. Kids are disobedient to their parents. We’ve seen the statistics… kids leave the Church at an alarming rate… I mean, Ken Ham lays it out in detail in his book Already Gone.

Kids hear mom and dad say that church is important, but their lives don’t reflect what they’re saying with their mouths. And couples get married but end up spending so much time trying to make it work, that they become virtually useless in ministry.

This is why Paul wrote what he wrote in 1st Corinthians 7:35… listen to it, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your UNDIVIDED DEVOTION to the Lord.”

That’s the goal right there! UNDIVIDED DEVOTION TO THE LORD!

You see; ultimately, these passages about marriage aren’t so much about marriage as they are about bringing glory to God! And the Bible is not a self-help book… it’s a book that’s designed to order our lives in such a way that they are devoted to the Lord and His mission. And marriage is a great thing that God has given to us, but at the same time, marriage is designed to bring glory to God. And if you look at it here… that’s why Paul encourages marriage for those who are tempted. Because a good, healthy marriage helps prevent temptations that would destroy a persons effectiveness for Christ. But remember; a good healthy marriage is one where both the husband and the wife are completely devoted to God.

Our big problem today is that we’ve gotten it way backward… we think that God is a means of improving our marriage… but the reality is that our marriage is supposed to improve our devotion to God.

So here’s the idea that Paul is trying to get across…

Marriage is kind of like a journey… a long, long journey… You know if Africa, they have a saying. It goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” So think of it like a long journey… or better yet… think of it like a football season.

You guys know I’m a Denver Broncos fan. And last year they won the Super Bowl. But that journey to the Super Bowl began in training camp. And they set a goal… and they had to learn to play together as a team… and where Peyton Mannings throwing arm wasn’t what it used to be, then other parts of the team had to pick up the slack… and the times when Ware was out with an injury, Von Miller had to step it up. And they all worked together for that common goal – of winning the Super Bowl.

But you know what… when this current season began to roll around, I told MJ, that we probably wouldn’t repeat… we still have a good team… but at the beginning of the season Oswieler left… he was looking out for himself rather than the team… and Miller was holding out for the bigger contract… looking out for himself rather than the team. In other words, the goal became inward focused… or individual focused, rather than team focused. They'll still win a lot of games... they've got a talented roster, and maybe after those distractions they can again focus on the prize at the end of the season and get it together... but we'll see.

Here’s how it works out in marriage. MJ and I don’t have time to fight about things… we’re in pursuit of a prize bigger than either of us. And when we do find ourselves arguing about something… you can be sure that it’s because we’ve taken our eyes off that bigger prize. It’s because we’ve focused inward rather than looking at the big picture.

And the big picture is to glorify God by making as many disciples as we possibly can. And disciples aren’t folks who just make shallow professions… it’s not people who confess Christ with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him… A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. And it starts with my immediate family… and it extends to my Church family… and it goes beyond these walls where. And in doing that it might mean re-evaluating some of the things I do… and it might mean re-evaluating some of the things we as the Church do… and asking, “Is this effective at making disciples? Or is it just something I do, or that we do, that allows us to feel like we’re busy doing the Lord’s work, but it’s really not discipleship at all?”

So let me try to sum up what I’m saying here. Having a good marriage isn’t about a husband saying, “Oh I’m going to love my wife sacrificially,” and a wife saying, “Oh I’m going to respect and submit to my husband.”

A good marriage comes about by doing those things… BECAUSE you are on a mission together.

I always liked the way Amos said it, “How can two walk together unless they be agreed.”

So let me give you an example. I know a couple… none of you know them… they lived in Eastern Oklahoma… in Muskogee… They were married for 22 years, and then after 22 years they divorced. During that time… those 22 years… they were not all unhappy years. In-fact I would say this couple had more happy years than unhappy. And yet they divorced. Why? Because during the 22nd year of their marriage, their youngest child graduated high school and left home. Their mission was their children, and when they believed that they had accomplished their mission, they divorced. It’s sad. But it happened. I know another couple… again you don’t know them, they’re from Dallas Texas… they were married and they were looking to one another to provide their meaning and value, and purpose. The wife was looking to the husband for this, and the husband was looking to the wife for this… They were together for a few years, and they divorced. Their mission was inward focused on themselves… and their spouses could only provide so much of that… A third couple… again, not from around here… they divorced after 11 years of marriage. Their mission originally was to enjoy life with one another… but after a while, the husbands mission changed… he went to college, got a degree, started working on his Masters degree, and trying to get a well paying career… His focus changed to providing more for his children, but hers remained the same. They never actually said it, but they were no longer agreed, and couldn’t walk together any longer.

But when you have a husband and a wife, who are agreed on the mission that God gives to us… and who understand that heaven is real, and hell is real, and that eternity is forever… and that God is glorified as we strive together to complete that mission, to finish that race, to fight that good fight of faith. Then that puts everything else in perspective.

The things you used to argue about aren’t so important… because you agree on how you should love one another, and you agree on how you should raise your kids, and you agree on how you should spend your money, and you agree on how you should worship the Lord.

And what’s cool is that this isn’t only practical, real help for husband and wife… this is how the relationship between Christ and His Bride works too… this is how the union between Christ and His Church plays out in every day life.

Because that’s what marriage is, and that’s how it glorifies God… because it shows the union between Jesus Christ and His Church.

So yes, Jesus loves us… He gave Himself for His Church. He willingly sacrificed Himself for us. Dying on the cross for us. Shedding His blood for us. And how do we in-turn show our love for Him?

John 14:15, “If you love Me, you WILL keep my commandments.”

Now I’m not finished, but I’m going to stop here… because this is a lot to process right?

We’ll pick it up again next Sunday Lord willing… and I’m going to show you some more practical ways in which this all plays out in our lives.