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Summary: God created marriage to be "til death do us part". But do we do when "for better or worse" gets worse? What do we do when things get so bad it doesn’t look like we’re ever going to get from worse to better?

OPEN: Every year, 100s of Civil war buffs get together and put on mock battles. They form military regiments modeled after the armed forces of that by-gone era and have artillery and cavalry units as well as foot soldiers. And they all don uniforms that soldiers of the North and South would have worn back then.

A couple of years ago, one such group was replaying the Battle of Hanover (it’s a town that influenced the outcome of the Battle of nearby Gettysburg). The southern forces under General J.E.B. Stuart had attacked a Federal cavalry unit driving it back through the streets of Hanover. But Union reinforcements arrived just in the nick of time and Stuart driven back, and was nearly captured.

Well, during the reenactment, it was a hot sweltering day. The civil war buffs are sweating as they maneuvered into position for their battle, facing delays and the usual frustrates involved in setting up such a display. However, one of the “Rebels” got so tired and hot and frustrated that he literally threw in the towel and headed for the refreshment tent.

As he tugged off his wool uniform he was heard to grumble:

“I quit. We’re not going to win anyway.”

And, of course – he was right!

At best, the Battle of Hanover was a draw, but it contributed Confederate loss at Gettysburg.

So here was this civil was buff – who knows HOW everything is going to turn out.

He’s tired, he’s hot, and discouraged.

He KNOWS his side isn’t going to win anyway… so he quits.

APPLY: And you know - that’s why many people quit.

They just know they’re going to lose (whatever struggle it is they’re facing).

They’ve give up hope.

They’ve gotten discouraged.

It’s not worth it to soldier on, and so they throw in the towel and walk away.

Here in Revelation 2, we read about a church at a city called Smyrna.

This is a first century congregation, and they’re fighting a losing battle.

They’re a poor church.

And they’re struggling to survive in a hostile community.

They’ve endured slander, persecution and there is little doubt that some of them are going to be thrown into prison.

They’re frustrated.

They’re discouraged.

And they’re on the edge of throwing in the towel.

And then, in walks Jesus.

He arrives just when they need Him most.

He’s come to tell them things they need to hear, so they’ll have the courage to hold on and stand firm in their faith.

One of the things he tells them is: “Be faithful, even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

Be faithful unto death.

That’s not easy to do.

Particularly when it doesn’t look like you’re ever going to win.

Particularly when it doesn’t seems like nothing you do will ever change anything.

AND to that person - going thru that kind of struggle - Jesus says

“Be faithful, even unto death, and I will reward you.”

This month’s sermon series deals with marriage.

The first sermon dealt with restoring your marriage’s “first love” and how critical it was that YOU decide that YOU were going to be the one to make that happen.

Today’s sermon deals with the phrase you often hear in marriage ceremonies:

“Til Death Do Us Part” or

“Til we’re separated by death”

That phrase - from your wedding vows - sounds an awful lot like Jesus’ declaration to the church at Smyrna – “Be faithful, even unto death”

But why does that phrase (Til Death Do Us Part) show up in so many wedding vows?

Well, for one thing Jesus taught us:

“at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one.

Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

God doesn’t want marriages to fail.

God expects – that when people make a commitment to be married - it’s going to be a lifelong commitment.

In fact, this is such a serious issue for God, that in Malachi 2:16, God declares

“I hate divorce”

Let me repeat that

“I hate divorce.”

Let me repeat that again:

“I hate divorce.”

But why?

Why does God hate divorce?

Because it messes up so many lives.

ILLUS: According to one recent survey, children of divorced parents generally suffered adverse effects from the divorce. A significant percentage of children from divorced families felt:

• they were not the center of their family

• That they weren’t emotionally safe

• That they couldn’t look to their parents for comfort

• And that – while they loved their parents… they didn’t necessarily respect them

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